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ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2014, 3(1), 49-65; doi:10.3390/ijgi3010049
Article

Barrier Island Dynamics Using Mass Center Analysis: A New Way to Detect and Track Large-Scale Change

*  and
Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina State University, 1125 Jordan Hall, 2800 Faucette Drive, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 November 2013 / Revised: 7 January 2014 / Accepted: 8 January 2014 / Published: 27 January 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Coastal GIS)
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Abstract

A geographic information system (GIS) was used to introduce and test a new method for quantitatively characterizing topographic change. Borrowing from classic Newtonian mechanics, the concept of a body’s center of mass is applied to the geomorphic landscape, and the barrier island environment in particular, to evaluate the metric’s potential as a proxy for detecting, tracking and visualizing change. Two barrier islands along North Carolina’s Outer Banks are used to test this idea: Core Banks, uninhabited and largely-undeveloped, and Hatteras Island, altered by the presence of a protective dune system. Findings indicate that for Core Banks, the alongshore change in the center of mass is in accord with dominate littoral transport and wind conditions. Cross-shore change agrees with independent estimates for the island migration rates. This lends credence to our assertion that the mass center metric has the potential to be a viable proxy for describing wholesale barrier migration and would be a valuable addition to the already-established ocean shoreline and subaerial volume metrics. More research is, however, required to demonstrate efficacy.
Keywords: barrier islands; center of mass; geomorphology; geographic information systems (GISs); GRASS; QGIS barrier islands; center of mass; geomorphology; geographic information systems (GISs); GRASS; QGIS
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Paris, P.; Mitasova, H. Barrier Island Dynamics Using Mass Center Analysis: A New Way to Detect and Track Large-Scale Change. ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2014, 3, 49-65.

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