Welcome to New New Jersey

November 5, 2012

NASA Earth Observatory:

On October 29, 2012, lives were changed forever along the shores of New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and in the two dozen United States affected by what meteorologists are calling Superstorm Sandy. The landscape of the East Coast was also changed, though no geologist would ever use the word “forever” when referring to the shape of a barrier island.

The two aerial photographs above show a portion of the New Jersey coastal town of Mantoloking, just north of where Hurricane Sandy made landfall. The top photograph was taken by the Remote Sensing Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on October 31, 2012; the lower image was acquired by the same group on March 18, 2007. The images were acquired from an altitude of roughly 7,500 feet, using a Trimble Digital Sensor System.

The Mantoloking Bridge cost roughly $25 million when it was opened in 2005 to replace a bridge built in 1938. After Sandy passed through on October 29, 2012, the bridge was covered in water, sand, and debris from houses; county officials closed it because they considered it unstable.

On the barrier island, entire blocks of houses along Route 35 (also called Ocean Boulevard) were damaged or completely washed away by the storm surge and wind. Fires raged in the town from natural gas lines that had ruptured and ignited. A new inlet was cut across the island, connected the Atlantic Ocean and the Jones Tide Pond.


8 Responses to “Welcome to New New Jersey”

  1. omnologos Says:

    Today’s Lesson: it is a folly to build your multimillion dollar home on a barrier island.

    This lesson is valid all over the world, and not just where hurricanes might strike.

    • As a matter of fact, I do think building a structure on a barrier island is a crappy decision, unless it’s a structure you’re willing to lose at the drop of a pin. The barrier islands exist where they are for a reason. But then I grew up in the hills and cliffs along the banks of the Mississippi River, I’ve seen land being moved around.

      On the other hand, I don’t think that is the lesson to be gleaned from the video. Extending your comment to encompass the situation, it would be foolish to build much of anything within 15 miles of any ocean coastline. If you add in the effects of the torrential rain, violent straight line winds, flooding and other phenomena then it makes no sense to live within 500 miles of any major body of water.

      Because of the geoengineering we’ve already performed, most of the natural protections from the violence of our weather systems have been “developed”. So we’ve put things we value directly in the path of destruction and cry and shake our fists when things are destroyed. Like most of this situation, it’s our own stupidity and at times our own greed that have created these problems.

      Let me submit that we would be smarter to rebuild the natural defenses that we’ve mostly stripped away. While we’re at it, we should re-think where and how we build things.

      And oddly enough, we really need to stop shifting the balance of gasses in our atmosphere and give the planet a chance to cool off. By analogy, if we wrapped the radiators and engines in our automobiles with insulation we’d expect them to overheat. Why should we believe that tipping the heat exchange balance for our planet would be any less distressing?

      • omnologos Says:

        Donal – it also depends on what coast you’re building on. Venice has done quite well for centuries, but then the Adriatic Sea can’t throw many punches of any kind. It’s the total opposite of a barrier island.

        Where my house in Italy is (on a hillside) there are several new buildings in crazy places, such as former riverbeds and the bottom of bowl-shaped valleys. I consider the inhabitants as walking dead, or their children or grandchildren, just as part of my choice when scouting for a building was “where the h*ck is all the rain going to go?”

        Certain things are bound to happen and discussions about greenhouse gases are a distraction regarding them.

        • mrsircharles Says:

          “Certain things are bound to happen and discussions about greenhouse gases are a distraction regarding them.”

          Obviously, certain things are bound to happen BECAUSE of human release of greenhouse gases. You’re just admitting that it is you who wants to distract from the causes.

          • omnologos Says:

            I feel like the house’s on fire and you want to discuss about phlogiston.

            I say, protect against the fire first (adapt) then there’ll be time to discuss anything of your liking (mitigate). How can that be wrong?

          • mrsircharles Says:

            So you think it’s worth to wait until we will have reached the tipping point of no return?

            You will need more fire extinguishers than you’ll have space in your boot, man.

  2. NevenA Says:

    omnologos, don’t be such an alarmist.

  3. kokuaguy Says:

    I am getting sick and tired of trying to respond to “conspiracy theories” of my family members but on the other hand I feel I need to comment in some way on a link sent to me by my brother. Any suggestions from anyone for a proposed reply to this kind of drivel would be appreciated.

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