Site: Virginia Coast Reserve LTER

Credit: Gordan Campbell at Altitude Gallery

Historically, this undeveloped landscape has been a shifting mosaic; a new 30-year retrospective now shows directional change and accelerating ecosystem loss. Barrier island upland area has declined by a third, and island marsh loss due to storm overwash has increased, especially in the last decade. Feedbacks between vegetation and sediment transport determine barrier island dune shape, and this affects island migration and the long term resilience of islands to storms.