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Posted on September 14th, 2017

Our Changing Landscape – Dooagh Beach, Ireland

In this monthly feature, we span the globe to examine Our Changing Landscape with time series of medium resolution RapidEye satellite imagery. The RapidEye archive dates back to late 2008 and already contains more than 10 billion square kilometers of data. Last month we looked the refilling of Twitchell Reservoir in California, and in September we travel across the “pond” with a look at the reemergence of a sandy beach in Dooagh, Ireland.

The RapidEye Constellation

RapidEye is a constellation of five 5-meter medium resolution satellites each offering five spectral bands of information. The RapidEye constellation offers daily revisits to every location on the planet with a huge footprint that is 77-km wide. The data is priced competitively with a starting cost of $1.28 per square kilometer for all five spectral bands – academics do receive discounts. RapidEye adds a fifth band, the red edge, to the ‘traditional’ multispectral set of blue, green, red and near-infrared (NIR). The additional spectral data in the red edge band allows users to extract more useful land ‘information’ than can be from traditional 4-band imagery sources. When RapidEye imagery is ordered as a Level 3A Orthorectified product, images from multiple dates are extremely well registered, making it the ideal data source for Our Changing Landscape.

The Reemergence of Dooagh Beach, Ireland

Click on the image above to see an animation of 5-meter natural color RapidEye imagery collected over Dooagh Beach on September 8, 2015, March 16, 2017 and May 9, 2017. In the center of all three images, you can find the thin band of land known as Dooagh Beach, and in the 2015 image it does appear that the water line goes right up to the edge of the grass/soil. But then in the March 16, 2017, it appears as though a beach is forming and by the May 9, 2017 image it is clear there is a large beach that has formed – about 540-meters across and 135-meters from the ocean to the edge of vegetated land. According to locals cited in the CNN article, the beach formed over an 8 to 10 day stretch in April – however these images seem to refute that. Now that said, it is possible what we are seeing here is the impact of high and low tide, with low tide in the 2017 images and high tide in the 2015 image. The mystery of Dooagh Beach continues! (Images Courtesy: Planet @ 2017)

Dooagh Beach is an approximately 500-meter long stretch of beach bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the south and the tiny Irish town of Dooagh to the north. In fact, Dooagh is so small that its population is not listed on its own, rather it is listed officially together with Keel (another small town to its east) at 541 citizens as of the last census in 2016, down from 582 in 2011! Located in the county of Mayo on Achill Island, this Irish town peaks at a summer temperature around 61 degrees Fahrenheit (16 degrees Celsius) in August, and then dips to a winter low of 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) in December and January. Dooagh receives an annual average of 22.3 inches (56.6 centimeters) of rain.

The tiny Irish town of Dooagh was perhaps best known for a deserted village (called a boley village) of roofless cottages in the lowlands close by. The cottages were used by migrating dairy herdsmen and their families. Another point of pride for the town is the Dooagh Pipe Band formed on March 17, 1947 with 11 band members. Since 2015, the town has also hosted a weekend festival in July featuring traditional music, food and games. During April of 2017, Dooagh gained international fame as the water and waves of the Atlantic Ocean returned a beige sandy strip of beach to the town which it had taken away in 1984. From 1984 to early 2017, Dooagh Beach was an unwelcoming strip of rocks and rock pools – but that has now changed for the better! So it is time to check out the 5-meter RapidEye archive to see how the beach looked before and after the spring 2017 storms that restored the sandy stretch.

If you would like to find out more about using RapidEye for your academic studies, engineering projects or any landscape analysis, let us know at or (303) 993-3863.

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