These incredible before and after aerial pictures show the destruction wreaked by Superstorm Sandy on the Atlantic Coast of the U.S.
The shocking before and after photos of the New York and New Jersey shoreline reveal in minute detail how much the land was altered in just a few moments.
They are part of a large-scale survey of the damage by the U.S. Geological Service, which is attempting to analyse the devastation caused to houses, public services and the lives of people from the battered seaside towns.
‘Sandy taught us yet again that not all Cat-1 hurricanes are created equal,’ said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. ‘The superstorm’s enormous fetch over the Atlantic produced storm surge and wave erosion of historic proportions.
‘We have seized this opportunity to gather unique data on a major coastline-altering event.’
As major storms approach, the USGS conducts pre-storm and post-storm flights to gather images along the length of the coastline likely to take the hit of the storm’s landfall.
Pictures from these points of impact help scientists understand which areas are likely to undergo the most severe impacts from future storms, and improves future coastal impact forecasting.
USGS oceanographer Nathaniel Plant said Sandy caused ‘significant beach and dune erosion and minor disruption of infrastructure in the south, to extreme and often catastrophic erosion, overwash and sediment deposition and inundation on northern beaches like Mantoloking, New Jersey.’
Overwash occurs when waves are higher than protective sand dunes, sweeping sand from the beach inland.
This can wreak havoc on roads and public transport, bury buildings and put lives at risk.
The photos will help USGS identify areas particularly vulnerable to severe coastal change.
Before Sandy, the service predicted erosion of 91 per cent of the Delmarva coastline, 98 per cent of beaches and dunes in New Jersey and 93 per cent in New York.
It recorded drastic changes on Fire Island in New York, where the beach all but disappeared overnight, seaside homes reduced to matchsticks and 3ft of sand dumped in back gardens.
USGS coastal geologist Cheryl Hapke said: ‘On average the dunes eroded back 70 feet – the equivalent of 30 years of change.
‘Our data also showed that dunes lost as much as 10 feet of elevation.’
Source: The Daily Mail