EarthView – Wind, Waves Alter Coastal Barriers

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You'll get washed or blown away by our latest EarthView!

EarthViews is an on-going series in which we share an Image of the Week from the Landsat program. From the artistry of Earth imagery to  land-use change over time, check back every Friday to see what stunning view is awaiting you!

Image shows side-by-side satellite views of the Massachusetts coast.
The Landsat image of the week for the week of April 11, 2016. Image shows side-by-side satellite views of the Massachusetts coast.

 

The EarthView: Wind,Waves Alter Coastal Barriers

Description:

These images of the southeastern elbow of Cape Cod capture the impact of natural forces that have raised up, shifted, and torn down the Nauset-Monomoy coastal barrier system. In the June 1984 scene acquired by Landsat 5, an unbroken barrier spit protects the Atlantic-facing coast of Chatham, MA, and its harbor. South of the mainland, North and South Monomoy Islands stand apart from each other and the coast.

Thirty-one years later, Landsat 8 reveals a landscape reshaped by the natural ebb and flow of waves, currents, winds, and tides. The changes are both subtle and substantial. Storms have breached the barrier spit in several places. By September 2015, the Monomoy islands have grown together. At the same time, waters around North Monomoy are shallower with sandbars and shoals closer to the water surface.

Time and the forces of nature will continue this reshaping of the barrier system. As they do, Landsat's continuous monitoring will be there to document it.

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