Date of Award


Degree Type

Major Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs


Planners and managers must understand the physical and anthropogenic changes taking place within the coastal zone to provide effective management. Remote sensing techniques and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are excellent tools for contributing data and analytical capabilities to identify possible conflicts within the coastal zone. This study examines the potential and actual use of these technologies by coastal managers within Rhode Island. Potential usage is discussed in terms of the range of data available and the feasibility of using the data for coastal problems. Also, GIS capabilities in Rhode Island are explored. Finally a survey designed to measure the actual use of remote sensing and GIS is presented. Results of the survey show that aerial photography has been used quite extensively by coastal managers in Rhode Island and will continue to be used in the future. Satellite derived data are used only for research purposes because of several factors including high cost and lack of need. GIS use is expanding rapidly throughout the state. The successful implementation of GIS is attributed to continued cooperation between state agencies and the University of Rhode Island's Environmental Data Center which operates Rhode Island Geographic Information System.