"IT'S like The Logies for science," is how a Warrnambool professor likened winning a Eureka Prize this week.
A program, involving 180 people statewide monitoring Victoria's coasts, started at Warrnambool's Deakin University campus about two years ago.
It's now become what the project's co-leader Daniel Ierodiaconou says could be among the biggest project monitoring coasts worldwide.
"It's the most comprehensive shoreline data set that's ever been collected we think anywhere in the world," Dr Ierodiaconou said.
With the help of more than 150 citizen scientists, two other universities, Propellor Aerobotics and the state government, the program has monitored 15 Victorian beaches from Portland to Seaspray in the state's east.
The volunteers have used drones to fly pre-determined routes and collect information scientists then develop into high resolution three-dimensional models of the beaches every six weeks.
"Then we are using a portal to feed the data back to the citizens so they can look it themselves and come to their own conclusions about how the shorelines are changing," Dr Ierodiaconou said.
"You'd never be able to do that with a science team, it's just too much work."
This week the Victorian Coastal Monitoring Program won the award for Innovation in Citizen Science at the prestigious Australian Museum's Eureka Prizes.
"It's really exciting this has come out of a regional university," Dr Ierodiaconou said.
But he is also excited about what the data collection will mean for coastal communities impacted by erosion like those at Portland, Port Fairy and Apollo Bay.
"The beauty about this information is that it's informing policy on the ground right now," Dr Ierodiaconou said.
"It's critical for modelling to make those decisions into the future, you need information on the shoreline change, the sediment dynamics, the wave energy, the seabed structure."
He said the data citizens collected was now informing sand renourishment programs such as at Apollo Bay, where thousands of cubic metres of sand can be washed away in major storms.
So far Dr Ierodiaconou said the program had developed more than 300 data sets and over the long-term would monitor the impact of climate change on coasts.
"We know the climate is changing, by developing these observing networks and sustaining them into the future, it's going to be incredibly useful to monitor how changes are happening and the impact."
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