Sampling in Geographical Fieldwork Using GIS Techniques , pp. 5 of 6

The results of the beach profiling at the two transects show the stark differences in beach gradients between Cha-am beach and Cha-am south beach. The beach profile of Cha-am beach (Figure 9), rose in gradient gradually. However, for the beach profile of Cha-am south beach (Figure 10), the beach was relatively flat near the sea. This is due to the strong backwash, characteristic of an erosive beach, where strong waves wash the sand quickly away from the beach back into the sea. However, the beach gradient along Cha-am south beach transect rose abruptly. This is due to the presence of big rocks and sand bags that were piled up as hard engineering measures by the locals and the government, to protect the coast from further retreat (Figure 11).

Finally, interviews were conducted with the potential stakeholders who are at the frontline of coastal erosion along Cha-am’s coastline, and to compare the experiences of shop owners at Cha-am beach with Cha-am south beach. Through the interviews, it was further confirmed that the impacts of coastal erosion were not very prevalent and significant at Cha-am beach. Many respondents said that they had no problems with their shops situated so near the sea. On the other hand, interviews at Cha-am south beach showed that the impacts of coastal erosion, such as coastal flooding, were strongly felt. Many of those interviewed expressed how such high sea levels and intense storm events were not present in the past and had been increasing in recent times. Additionally, some respondents noted the retreat in coastline over the years, resulting in a much shorter beach at Cha-am south as compared to the past, which had affected their tourist numbers.

Implications of Research

The analysis revealed that the research results on-site (i.e. the interviews, sediment analysis and beach profiling) were consistent with the data gathered off-site using GoogleEarth and GIS remote sensing satellite imagery. This suggests that the method of sampling an unfamiliar site using GIS remote sensing technology is useful and potentially accurate.

Geography teachers are constantly required to make decisions on the locations for sampling in fieldwork with key geographical concepts in mind – space, place, scale, interdependence, environment, physical and human processes. However, there may be many uncertainties in the fieldsite or sampling location. Due to certain constraints, the teacher may not be able to explore the fieldsite before embarking on the fieldwork with students.  Technology can therefore be used to assist in making these decisions. For example, the teacher could utilise GoogleEarth and other relevant satellite images for students to do a pre-fieldwork analysis of the fieldsite.  Furthermore, GIS remote sensing technologies are able to go beyond the present and what appears at face value, to examine the historical data of the study area and how it has evolved over time. Although such data can be backed up and gathered through anecdotal accounts from interviews with the relevant stakeholders, the data collected from GIS remote sensing technologies serves as a good starting point for the selection of a suitable fieldsite for the geographical investigation.

This research was undertaken as an Undergraduate Final Year Project at NIE. Supervised by A/P Kim Irvine.

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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