Examples of Change

Accomack County - Tangier Island is located in Chesapeake Bay offshore of the Lower Eastern Shore. It consists of three large islands; the developed southern island, upper marsh island known as the Uppards (shown), and a smaller island to the east known as Port Isobel. The exposed, western edge of Tangier Island is losing land incredibly fast, particularly the unprotected marsh island known as the Uppards. The Uppards provide protection to the navigation channel, docks, and crab shacks that are vital to the economy of this small Island. The red line is the 1938 shoreline for this area.

Mathews County New Point Comfort Lighthouse was built in the early 1800s on 250 acres of land at the southern tip of Mathews County where Mobjack Bay meets Chesapeake Bay. Erosion has been a constant threat to the Lighthouse, but it was the hurricanes of 1933 that finally cut through the island and left the tower standing on a tiny parcel isolated from the rest of the Island.  The light operated until 1963 when it was officially deactivated. Today, the lighthouse is on a small island surrounded by rock to protect it from further erosion and is only reachable by boat. It's maintained by the New Point Comfort Lighthouse Preservation Task Force.

Northampton County - Along Church Neck on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, a great deal of sand regularly shifts from north to south creating dynamic spits on the shoreline. The 1938 shoreline shows that no spits exist along this section of shoreline. However, by 1949, (blue shoreline) a spit has developed to the north. By 1972, the spit had migrated southward (green shoreline). The 2009 shoreline (black) shows that the spit has continued its southward migration and was wider at its tip than in previous years.  Two years later, as shown in the photo from 2011, continued southward migration of the spit is indicated. Today, the spit is fed by erosion of the sandy banks from the north.

Portsmouth - Craney Island witnessed several battles throughout history, the most famous of which was the Battle of Craney Island in 1813 during the War of 1812. In the 1920s, this Island was converted to a naval facility. Due to its military importance during the World War II era, the location of the Island was whited out on the 1937 aerial imagery. By 1961, the military had changed the Island such that it was connected to the mainland. The creation of a large, long-term disposal area for locally-dredged material became known as Craney Island as well. The dredge disposal area has been in continual use since 1946, and the original 2,500 acres are currently being expanded. The red line is the 1937 shoreline for this area.

Virginia Beach - These images serve as an example of changing the environment due to dredging and development.  Marsh and upland areas were dredged to build up land for development and for navigation channels. The red line is the 1937 shoreline for this area.

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