Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Hooghly Ate Your Islands

... Lohachara and Bedford Islands: Then (1945+/-) and Now (Google Earth 12/06)

After reading Tim Blair's post, at timblair.net, of the misleading story published by the Independent about the global warmening disappearance of Lohachara (and Beford) Islands, I went looking for maps.

This picture below is a composite, flattened *.jpg of a *.psd consisting of US Army Map Service maps, Layers 1 and 2, via this page at the University of Texas map library and a screen capture of the same vinicity, Layer 3, using Google Earth.

Registration was performed using pushpins at coincidental latitudes and longitudes on the Google Earth image that matched the L/L on the Army maps. Size and orientation manipulation was necessary to effect the overlay.

Lohachara and Bedford Islands were outlined in red on Layer 4 and the Google Earth map was set at about 50% transparency.

Of course the jpg provided below has no layers, but the psd is available on request. I provide the jpg because many folks don't have the wherewithal to view it.

Click to Enlarge


Observations to which I direct you:
-- Lohachara and Bedford Islands are gone as is most of Khasimara to the north of them.
-- The Hooghly has moved to the east upstream of the islands in the time elapsed, putting the islands directly in the front of the path of the river's main channel (see how the eastern upstream bank has also eroded).
-- There is an island on the opposite side of the channel from the L/B/K islands which has grown to the size of all three other islands in the time elapsed and another formed at about the point in the river's mouth across from where Bedford was, all in the same time that other islands in question have been 'comsumed by the sea'.

One note about the Google Earth satellite image. It has been doctored before it was included in GE to enhance the river's color (a portion of the coloring was not done and appears brownish). NASA has different images of the Delta which I think better portrays the reality of the Delta's turpid and sediment filled waters. One such image can be found here.

Whatever one may think of Global Warmening, the real story here is that there are some researchers who shouldn't be.


4 Creaks:

Anonymous Bruce creaked ...

Go Dusty, brilliant work.

I lived on the banks of the upstream Hooghly for a year, 20 years ago. We used to go to the bank for a swim sometimes, which was dangerous because of constant changes from erosion. The fun bit was seeing what the river bank is shaped like this time - cliff or beach? - it was always different and was gradually claiming land on our side while relinquishing it on the other to the alternate joy and misery of local farmers losing and gaining.

There are also massive storms every year at the start of the Monsoon which produce surges drowning the lower coastal islands, some of which are only a few centimeters above sea level.

Bengalis know the risks of living on low-lying ground but take such risks out of desperation or for profit. Thousands of fishermen will indeed set up camps on the lower islands to be close to the fishing, these camps are usually male-only temporary camps occupied during fishing season. Hundreds have been killed when whole islands have been overswept by sudden storm surges.

Because of the possible profit the land was called 'Sunar Bangla' the land of Gold, something like India's California, but remains as dangerous as ever in parts drawing young fortune-hunters to the lucrative profits in fishing.

12/27/2006 1:05 AM  
Blogger Dusty creaked ...

Well, thanks for the compliment, Bruce, and for adding your first-hand experiences of the area. That is a great help in getting a feel for what the river is really like and what the people there need to do to cope with it.

12/27/2006 1:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous creaked ...

Remember that the Farakka Dam started feeding extra water to the Hooghly in 1974. It might be relevant if running more water over a sand and mud island might affect it.

1/10/2007 4:10 AM  
Blogger David Stefanini creaked ...

Hey, if you plan on writing for this blog again I was hoping to offer a link exchange with your.

My site is American Legends and the URL is www.americanlegends.blogspot.com

If you want to do this just head over to my site and leave a comment for one of the posts and I'll link your blog.

Take Care,
David

2/21/2007 11:33 PM  

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