Abstract

The backbarrier area of the East Friesian Islands has undergone extensive changes during its recorded history (since 1650). The physical setting that contributes to the dynamic nature of the backbarrier region is the presence of strong tidal currents (mesotidal conditions), the lack of extensive marsh development, a wide backbarrier area and a strong westerly wind regime that parallels the trend of the island chain. The major channels dissecting the backbarrier have migrated eastward 6.0 to 14.0 km during a 310-year period, extensively reworking the tidal flats. Headward erosion of these channels has been in response to wind-generated currents, sediment suspension by wave action, and an eastward growth of the barrier islands. Eastward displacement of the backbarrier drainage divides has produced inlet drainage networks that are asymmetrically situated behind the downdrift barrier island, resulting in hook-shaped main inlet channels. Highly hook-shaped channels occur at inlets that have been stable historically, due to their channel thalwegs having scoured into resistant sediments. Inlets that have had a long history of eastward migration have straight to slightly hooked channels.

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