In this monthly feature, we span the globe to examine Our Changing Landscape with a time series of medium-resolution PlanetScope satellite imagery. The PlanetScope constellation dates back to 2016 and collects hundreds of millions of square kilometers of 8-band 3-meter imagery daily! In November, we looked at depressed water levels in the Danube River due to the European drought. And this month, we travel to Sanibel Island off the coast of Florida to look at the impact Hurricane Ian had on the island.
The PlanetScope Microsat Constellation
PlanetScope is a constellation of more than 240 microsats (as of January 2022) referred to individually as Doves. Each Dove is able to collect up to 20,000 square kilometers (sq km) per day of 3-meter (m) 4-band multispectral (i.e. blue, green, red and near-infrared [NIR]) imagery; and newly launched SuperDoves collect 8-band multispectral adding in valuable red-edge spectral data. Across the constellation, PlanetScope is archiving more than 200 million sq km of medium-resolution imagery a day, making it the go to source for daily imagery over most locations. This massive archive dates back to 2016, offering the most complete and continuous record of spatial data on the planet since the start of the constellation’s ongoing launch schedule. Collecting 3-meter multispectral imagery is the equivalent of ‘high-resolution’ multispectral data imaged by a 75-centimer (cm) satellite (as this satellite would feature 75-cm panchromatic and 3-m multispectral), making PlanetScope an extremely competitively priced option at just $1.80 per sq km. With well registered images and nearly daily collections of most locations, PlanetScope is the ideal imagery source for this current-events focused series, Our Changing Landscape.
Hurricane Ian Makes Landfall Close to Sanibel Island, Florida
Sanibel Island is a small island off the coast of Florida, well known for its beautiful white sand beaches and tropical setting. Sanibel is a popular tourist destination, luring people with the promise of golf, tennis, bird watching, fishing and beach time.
Sanibel Island is what is known as a “barrier island”. Barrier islands are coastal landforms created by sand deposition from wave and tidal action. They are often significantly altered by major storms, but they also protect coastlines and create protected waters where unique flora and fauna can flourish.
Sanibel beaches attract visitors from around the world because seashells often wash up there, including some rare ones. Tourists comb the beaches in search of these beauties, practicing the posture known as the “Sanibel Snoop”, as they search the shorelines. Each year in March, Sanibel hosts a Shell Festival. The festival includes books, live exhibits, information about responsible shelling, and more.
This year, however, the Shell Festival has been cancelled due to the impact of Hurricane Ian. The show isn’t the only thing on the island impacted by Hurricane Ian. The island suffered catastrophic damage from the storm and is still recovering.
On September 28th, 2022, Hurricane Ian made landfall just north of the island as a strong category 4 storm. Multiple sections of the Sanibel Causeway, which connects the island to the mainland, collapsed during the storm. For weeks after the storm hit, the island was reachable only by sea or air. After much restoration work, the Causeway is set to reopened for civilian traffic on Wednesday, October 19th.
There have been 45 deaths confirmed by the state’s medical examiners in Lee County, of which Sanibel Island is a part. Many of the cottages on the beaches of Sanibel Island were washed away in the storm, while most homes suffered roof and flood damage, but remain standing. Other facilities on the island, such as golf courses, bars and restaurants also sustained damage. No one knows how long the recovery process for the island will take, but hopefully things will move quicker with the reopening of the Sanibel Causeway.
It’s likely that global warming is contributing to the fierceness of tropical storms like Hurricane Ian. According to research, warmer oceans and higher sea levels are likely to fuel these storms, causing stronger wind, heavier rainfall and more flooding when they hit land. All this points to one more reason to take a stand and try to stop global warming.
Now it is time to check out the 3-m PlanetScope archive to see some of the damage Sanibel Island suffered from Hurricane Ian; and in the meantime, head to mysanibel.com for up-to-date information about the island’s restoration process.
If you would like to find out more about using 3-meter PlanetScope imagery for your academic studies, engineering projects or any landscape analysis, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org or (303) 993-3863.