Real-World Laboratory Barrier Island

North Sea Island Spiekeroog

Spiekeroog due to its geographic nature as tidal barrier island between its neighbouring islands Langeoog to the west and Wangerooge to the east offers a lot of options for coastal field research. As off the shore coastal island Spiekeroog is exposed to winterstorms from the Nordatlantic and Arctic Sea at the foremorst point. Consequentially, wind and waves impact the islands coastline most, before the approach the main land coast with its dyke line 5 km south of the island. This high energy zone is experiencing constant change, as the coastline with its beaches, saltmarshes and dunes dynamically towards the environmentally predominant forces. Mankind intervenes into this natural dynamic by constructing hydraulic works, which influence transport pathways of sediments and current trajectories. As a consequence, the westend of the island features a groin field to combat erosion tendencies. Furthermore, a flood protection wall was errected along the north-west flank featuring a characteristic S-profile. South of it, coastal dunes are found, which are heavily eroded and impacted by storm surges. As coastal protection measure, these erosion volumes are recreated by the Niedersächsische Landesbetrieb für Wasserwirtschaft, Küsten- und Naturschutz (NLWKN) as was recently stated in succession to recent storm surge events (in German).