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Tales of the Coast
Coastal Dynamics

Wind and Mangrove Coasts

For mangrove coasts to form and survive, wind conditions must be light enough to not create a harsh wave climate. Extensive mangrove coasts are found in the eastern and central Gulf of Mexico, which features smaller wave periods than most of the Atlantic coast. Higher wave conditions are present in the western Gulf and offshore sites.

Due to the lack of strong storms centered within the Gulf, there is little or no swell reaching Gulf shorelines, with the notable exception of swell from remote tropical systems. Thus, the wind and wave climate in this region has encouraged the development of mangrove coasts, which require low wave energy.

Mangrove Coast
Source: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration

Wind and Mangrove Coasts

Gulf Coast: Some of the higher non-tropical waves in the Gulf of Mexico are generated by wind systems called "northers," similar to "northeasters" along the Atlantic coast. Since these winds blow out of the north, they typically do not lead to harsh wave conditions at the coast itself but can produce large waves at offshore sites.