Analysis of shoreline variability and shoreline erosion-accretion trends is fundamental to a broad range of investigations undertaken by coastal scientists, coastal engineers, and coastal managers. Though strictly defined as the intersection of water and land surfaces, for practical purposes, the dynamic nature of this boundary and its dependence on the temporal and spatial scale at which it is being considered results in the use of a range of shoreline indicators.

Students are taught to assess beach composition through sediment samples, ranging poles and clinometers to analyze slope, and longshore drift measurements. Data is recorded for specific sites and year to year to give the data depth and a breadth of applicability.