Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

VIMS Department/Program

Center for Coastal Resources Management (CCRM)

Publication Date



Estuaries and Coasts


The imagery collected by medium-resolution earth-observing satellites is a powerful and cost-effective tool for the quantitative assessment of shoreline dynamics for water bodies of different spatial scales. In this study, we utilize imagery collected in 1984–2021 on the Middle Peninsula, Virginia, bordering the Chesapeake Bay, USA, by medium-resolution (10–30 m) satellites Landsat-5/7/8 and Sentinel-2A/B. The data was managed in the Earth Analytics Interoperability Lab (EAIL) Data Cube built and configured by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO, Australia and Chile). The assessments of shoreline change demonstrate adequate agreement with assessments based on aerial photography collected during 1937–2009 by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, with reasonable disagreement attributed to the differences in the analyzed periods and in the accuracy of land/ water edge detection. Most of the studied coastline was subject to land loss (erosion), in some locations exceeding 3 m year− 1, usually along low-lying sandy beaches. The shoreline segments with man-made structures such as marinas, bulkheads, revetments, and offshore breakwaters demonstrated a significantly lower range of changes as compared to natural reaches. Regular analysis of medium resolution satellite imagery appears to be an effective method for routine assessment of shoreline changes along the land/water edge.



Coast, Shoreline change, Satellite imagery, Chesapeake Bay