Along the coast of the Carolinas, cameras attached to kites are collecting aerial images of protective barrier dunes in order to observe how they are changing over time, Sierra Magazine reports.

Why it matters: Barrier dunes buffer beaches from storm destruction. Elsemarie DeVries, who leads a team of researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill carrying out the study, told Sierra her primary concern is that rising ocean tides and powerful storms threaten dune ecosystems that don't have enough time to rebuild themselves between storms.

How they do it: The cameras take 200 to 400 images that are digitally combined to produce a topographical model of the dunes which researchers can use to track height, width and volume. Kites were chosen because they are far less expensive than drones.

The solution:

Spencer Rogers, coastal construction and erosion specialist at the University of North Carolina, says one option is beach nourishment — the practice of moving sand from one part of the beach to another. Still, these man-made dunes lack the stability of naturally formed ones that are anchored by plants.

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What Matters 2020

The missed opportunities for 2020 and beyond

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Jason Armond (Los Angeles Times), Noam Galai, Jabin Botsford (The Washington Post), Alex Wong/Getty Images

As the 2020 presidential campaign draws to a close, President Trump and Joe Biden have focused little on some of the most sweeping trends that will outlive the fights of the moment.

Why it matters: Both have engaged on some issues, like climate change and China, on their own terms, and Biden has addressed themes like economic inequality that work to his advantage. But others have gone largely unmentioned — a missed opportunity to address big shifts that are changing the country.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Pence chief of staff Marc Short tests positive for coronavirus — COVID-19 looms over White House Halloween celebrations
  2. Health: Fauci says maybe we should mandate masks if people don't wear them — America was sick well before it ever got COVID-19
  3. World: Polish President Andrzej Duda tests positive for COVID-19.

Pence chief of staff Marc Short tests positive for coronavirus

Marc Short with Katie Miller, Vice President Pence's communications director, in March. Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times via Reuters

Marc Short, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, tested positive for the coronavirus Saturday and is quarantining, according to a White House statement.

Why it matters: Short is Pence's closest aide, and was one of the most powerful forces on the White House coronavirus task force.