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Hurricane Katrina Erodes the U.S. Gulf Coast

Hurricane Katrina Erodes the U.S. Gulf Coast

Gulf Coast cities weren’t the only land surfaces to take a beating from Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. Barrier islands stretching from Texas to Florida were also scoured by the wind and waves of the powerful storm. Permanent changes to the shape and elevation of Horn and Petit Bois Islands south of Pascagoula, Mississippi, are visible in these infrared-enhanced images captured by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA’s Terra satellite. The eastern and western tips of Horn island have been eroded so greatly that they are now below sea level, their white sandy beaches (August 7 image) now covered by blue water (September 17 image). The sound (northern) side of the island is layered with sand, which stands out in grayish-white against the red of vegetation. On Petit Bois Island, the changes appear more subtle, but there, too, the red of the island’s vegetation appears softened by bright sand.

NASA images courtesy Jesse Allen, Earth Observatory, using data obtained courtesy of the NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team