Geo-Marine Letters

, Volume 29, Issue 6, pp 455–466 | Cite as

Hurricane impact and recovery shoreline change analysis of the Chandeleur Islands, Louisiana, USA: 1855 to 2005

  • Sarah Mary Fearnley
  • Michael D. Miner
  • Mark Kulp
  • Carl Bohling
  • Shea Penland
Original

Abstract

Results from historical (1855–2005) shoreline change analysis conducted along the Chandeleur Islands, Louisiana demonstrate that tropical cyclone frequency dominates the long-term evolution of this barrier island chain. Island area decreased at a rate of −0.16 km2/year for the relatively quiescent time period up until 1996, when an increase in tropical cyclone frequency accelerated this island area reduction to a rate of −1.01 km2/year. More frequent hurricanes also affected shoreline retreat rates, which increased from −11.4 m/year between 1922 and 1996 to −41.9 m/year between 1982 and 2005. The erosional impact caused by the passage of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was unprecedented. Between 2004 and 2005, the shoreline of the northern islands retreated −201.5 m/year, compared with an average retreat rate of −38.4 m/year between 1922 and 2004. A linear regression analysis of shoreline change predicts that, as early as 2013, the backbarrier marsh that serves to stabilize the barrier island chain will be completely destroyed if storm frequency observed during the past decade persists. If storm frequency decreases to pre-1996 recurrence intervals, the backbarrier marsh is predicted to remain until 2037. Southern portions of the barrier island chain where backbarrier marsh is now absent behave as ephemeral islands that are destroyed after storm impacts and reemerge during extended periods of calm weather, a coastal behavior that will eventually characterize the entire island chain.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah Mary Fearnley
    • 1
  • Michael D. Miner
    • 1
  • Mark Kulp
    • 1
  • Carl Bohling
    • 1
  • Shea Penland
    • 1
  1. 1.Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental SciencesUniversity of New OrleansNew OrleansUSA

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