Shifting Sands on Petit Bois Island

Climate change is expected to increase storm intensity

Strong storms such as hurricanes often change the shape of barrier islands by creating powerful waves with tremendous energy hitting island shores. This increased wave energy can accelerate erosion, making the islands narrower. Large waves can completely overwash islands, particularly in low-lying and narrow sections, breaking a single island into two (as they did with Petit Bois and Dauphin Island in the 18th century). By absorbing this increased wave energy, barrier islands protect mainland coastal areas from the full force of hurricane waves. For example……But in the process, they take a beating themselves.

Scientists predict that as global temperatures rise, storms such as hurricanes will increase in severity. Already, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, the large number of storms affecting the Mississippi coast since 1995 has accelerated land loss on the barrier islands.   This includes Hurricanes Danny (1997), Georges (1998), Ivan (2004), and Katrina (2005).