Impacts to island in Florida Bay following Hurricane Irma, 2017
Scientists from the Florence Bascom Geoscience Center first sampled four islands in Florida Bay, Everglades National Park, in April 2014 to collect cores to study sea level rise and storm history in the region. In September 2017, Hurricane Irma (a category 4 storm at landfall in the Florida Keys) passed just to the west of our field sites. The western-most of the four islands (Jim Foot Key) was closest to the eye of the storm and the most impacted.
Islands such as Jim Foot Key serve as examples of what might happen to the main-land coast of Florida with changes in sea level and climate. Observations through summer 2018 have been published but the research team continues to monitor Jim Foot Key to see if the protective berm will recover or if the eastern part of the island will be inundated by rising sea level.
In Photo: Satellite imagery of eastern berm of Jim Foot Key (island outline shown in lower left box) in Florida Bay before Hurricane Irma (a) and after (b). The thick lines (indicated by arrows) show where the berm was measured, and a comparison of a and b indicates a decrease in berm width following the storm. The satellite imagery was obtained from DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-2 satellite, August 13, 2017 (a) and July 13, 2018 (b).