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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 Timbalier Island and its northeastern companions are visible in this pair of infrared-enhanced images from the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA’s Terra satellite.

Timbalier Island, the largest island pictured here, sits at the interface between the Gulf of Mexico (south) and Terrebonne Bay (north) along the Louisiana coast southwest of New Orleans. Compared to the image from 2000 (bottom), a large swath of bright sand dominates the eastern side of Timbalier Island in the September 13 image, having either been piled there or exposed by waves and storm surge. To the east-northeast, two small, curving islands have disappeared completely, while farther north, the fierce seas turned two small slots in a barrier island into a single large gap.

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