657 new islands discoveredApril 24th, 2011 - 7:50 pm ICT by IANS
Washington, April 24 (IANS) A total of 657 new islands have been discovered around the world, a global survey has said.
The Earth has many more barrier islands than previously thought, it said. The northern hemisphere is home to 74 percent of these islands.
The nation with the most barrier islands is the US, with 405, including those along the Alaskan Arctic shoreline, the Christian Science Monitor reported quoting the study.
Barrier islands are found along all continents except Antarctica and in all oceans, and they make up roughly 10 percent of the Earth’s continental shorelines, it said.
The newly identified barrier islands didn’t miraculously appear in the last decade. They’ve long existed but were overlooked or misclassified in past surveys, the Monitor quoted study team member Matthew L. Stutz of Meredith, as saying.
Scientists believed barrier islands couldn’t exist in locations with seasonal tides of more than 13 feet.
Yet the new survey identifies the world’s longest chain of barrier islands along a stretch of the equatorial coast of Brazil, where spring tides reach 23 feet, the Monitor noted.
The 54-island chain extends 571 km along the fringe of a mangrove forest south of the mouth of the Amazon river.
Past surveys didn’t recognize it as a barrier island coast partly because older satellite images didn’t show a clear separation between the islands and mangrove, says Stutz.
The findings illustrate the need for a new way to classify and study barrier islands, so that scientists can predict which of today’s islands might be in danger of disappearing in the near future, the researchers say.
Unlike stationary landforms, barrier islands build up, erode, migrate and rebuild over time in response to waves, tides, and other physical processes in the open ocean environment. They help protect low-lying mainland coasts against erosion and storm damage, and can be important wildlife habitats.
The study was published in the March edition of the Journal of Coastal Research, according to the Monitor Tuesday.
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Tags: amazon river, april 24, barrier island, barrier islands, christian science monitor, coasts, forest south, global survey, last decade, mangrove forest, new survey, northern hemisphere, open ocean environment, physical processes, satellite images, shorelines, spring tides, storm damage, stutz, wildlife habitats