Google Earth Timelapse: viewing our changing coastlines
Just over four years ago, Swellnet published an article entitled "Skeleton Bay: The Death of a Wave Foretold". Its opening stanza was bold:
Skeleton Bay, the world's most perfect and thought provoking sand-bottom left hand point break may not exist in twenty years time.
Given the plethora of incredible POV footage that was emerging around that time - following on from the wave's 2008 discovery by American surfer Brian Gable - the concept seemed hard to fathom. But coastal processes occur over long time peroids that easily slip beneath the scrutiny of our short-attention-spanned, social-media trained mindsets.
Then, in September this year - almost four years to the day - Swellnet published a second article: "Dislocated skeleton: The shifting position of Skeleton Bay".
With the availability of higher resolution satellite imagery, we were able to better approximate how the coastline was changing, relative to the surfing community - not just its northern advance, but also the peel angle, which could ultimately make the wave too fast to surf.
And now, even more incredible evidence has emerged of the rapidly evolving coastal processes at Skeleton Bay - and other locations too.
In the last two weeks, Google released a new product called Google Earth Timelapse. It's a "global, zoomable video that lets you see how the Earth has changed over the past 32 years".
Consisting of 33 cloud-free annual mosaics, it displays one image for each year from 1984 to 2016.
And the results are staggering.
Take a look at Skeleton Bay:
Note: press play to start the sequence, and it may take some time to load on a slow internet connection. You can also zoom in to get a closer view, or better still - open this link in a new window.
Aside from the changing dynamics at Skeleton Bay, did you observe the boat harbour that sprung up in adjacent Walvis Bay in 2015?
The incredible imagery doesn't stop at Namibia either. Some other gems we've found so far include:
- The longshore drift north from Fraser Island (clicky)
- The sea-sawing Murray Mouth (clicky)
- The snaking tongue of Double Island Point (clicky)
- Sand mining at North Stradbroke Island (clicky)
- Superbank accretion from about 2001 onwards (clicky)
I reckon there's weeks of worthwhile procrastination utilising Google's new toy. See you on the other side!