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NASA Sees Hurricane Charley Slice a Florida Island


Hurricane Charley came ashore on the southwest coast of Florida as a Category 4 hurricane on Friday, Aug. 13, 2004, and changed the look of North Captiva Island.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), NASA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are studying the effects of Charley as part of a cooperative research project investigating coastal change.

The USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program investigates the extent and causes of coastal impacts of hurricanes and extreme storms on the coasts of the United States. The program’s overall objective is to improve the capability to predict coastal change that results from severe tropical and extra-tropical storms. Such a capability will facilitate locating buildings and infrastructure away from coastal change hazards.

On Aug. 15, aerial video and still photography were acquired from Venice to Marco Island, Fla. On Aug. 16, NASA’s laser mapping system called EAARL (Experimental Advanced Airborne Research Lidar), measured ocean depths and the topography of the ocean floor and the coast.

The data were compared to an earlier survey conducted in June 2004 by the Army Corps of Engineers using CHARTS (Compact Hydrographic Airborne Rapid Total Survey) to detect the magnitude and spatial variability of coastal changes such as beach erosion, overwash deposition and island breaches. The data will also be used to develop and test computer models that will predict coastal impacts from severe storms. It will be made available to local, state and federal agencies for purposes of disaster recovery and erosion mitigation.

"They are trying to better understand how hurricanes or Nor’easters impact coastal environments," said C. Wayne Wright, remote-sensing scientist at NASA Goddard’s Wallops Island Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va.

This is a joint project with NASA, the USGS and the Army Corps of Engineers. The partners are using this to measure beach face changes as a result of severe storms.

Rob Gutro | EurekAlert!
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