Remote Sensing of Narrowing Barrier Islands along the Coast of Pakistan over Past 30 Years

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Original languageEnglish
Article number295
Journal / PublicationJournal of Marine Science and Engineering
Issue number3
Online published8 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021



Barrier islands (BIs) are the first line of defense against the sea/wave actions in coastal areas, and assessing their stability is crucial in the context of effective coastal planning. Therefore, this study evaluates the spatial–temporal shoreline changes of the BIs in Pakistan over the past three decades (1989–2018). Satellite data from Landsat missions are used to delineate the shorelines of 19 BIs in Pakistan. After delineating the shorelines from satellite observations, two well-known statistical methods (i.e., end point rate (EPR) and linear regression rate (LRR)) are used to capture the localized changes in the BIs. The results ascertain that nearly all of the BIs have experienced noteworthy erosion during the past three decades. While the mean erosion over all the BIs during the study period is estimated to be >6 m/y, significant spatial heterogeneities among the individual BIs exist. The interdecadal comparison indicates that the highest mean erosion of the BIs occurred during the period 1989–1999 (13.03 ± 0.62 m/y), which gradually reduced over the preceding decades (i.e., 7.76 ± 0.62 m/y during the period 1999–2009 and 3.8 ± 0.7 m/y during the period 2009–2018). Nevertheless, ~65% of the total BIs experienced high erosion (>2 m/y), ~15% experienced moderate (<2 m/y), and ~20% experienced low erosion (<1 m/y) during the period 1989-2018. This situation implies that while ~65% of these BIs need immediate interventions from the concerned authorities, the 15% BIs with moderate erosion might experience high erosion in the wake of rising sea levels and decreasing sediment influx in the near future without proper measures. This depletion of the BIs might not only affect Pakistan but also have regional consequences due to their various services.

Research Area(s)

  • Coastal planning and management, DSAS, Remote sensing, Shoreline change analysis, Spatial analysis

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