Nav: Home

Louisiana wetlands struggling with sea-level rise 4 times the global average

March 14, 2017

Without major efforts to rebuild Louisiana's wetlands, particularly in the westernmost part of the state, there is little chance that the coast will be able to withstand the accelerating rate of sea-level rise, a new Tulane University study concludes.

The study by researchers in Tulane's Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and published in the open-access journal Nature Communications shows that the rate of sea-level rise in the region over the past six to 10 years amounts to half an inch per year on average.

"In the Mississippi Delta, about 65 percent of study sites are probably still keeping pace, but in the westernmost part of coastal Louisiana, more than 60 percent of sites are on track to drown," said Tulane geology professor Torbjörn E. Törnqvist, a co-author of the study.

Törnqvist conducted the research with lead author and PhD candidate Krista L. Jankowski and co-author Anjali M. Fernandes, a former postdoc in Törnqvist's group who is now at the University of Connecticut.

The researchers used an unconventional method to measure sea-level change that integrated information from different data sources. They analyzed measurements of shallow subsidence rates at 274 sites across the coast and combined these with published GPS-measurements of deeper subsidence rates. Adding published satellite observations of the rise of the sea surface in the Gulf of Mexico, they were able to calculate how rapidly sea level is rising with respect to the coastal wetland surface.

"The bottom line is that in order to assess how dire the situation is in Louisiana, this new dataset is a huge step forward compared to anything we've done before," Törnqvist said.

Justin Lawrence of the National Science Foundation, which provided funding for the study, agreed.

"These researchers have developed a new method of evaluating whether coastal marshes in Louisiana will be submerged by rising sea levels," Lawrence said. "The findings suggest that a large portion of coastal marshes in Louisiana are vulnerable to present-day sea-level rise. This work may provide an early indication of what is to occur in coastal regions around the world later this century."

A link to the research article can be found here.
-end-
The research was made possible through publicly available data collected under the auspices of Louisiana's Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and the US Geological Survey.

Tulane University

Related Wetlands Articles:

First long-term study of Murray-Darling Basin wetlands reveals severe impact of dams
A landmark 30-year-long UNSW Sydney study of wetlands in eastern Australia has found that construction of dams and diversion of water from the Murray-Darling Basin have led to a more than 70 percent decline in waterbird numbers.
Wild geese in China are 'prisoners' in their own wetlands
In many places in the world, goose populations are booming as the birds have moved out of their wetland habitats to exploit an abundance of food on farmland.
Louisiana wetlands struggling with sea-level rise 4 times the global average
Without major efforts to rebuild Louisiana's wetlands, particularly in the westernmost part of the state, there is little chance that the coast will be able to withstand the accelerating rate of sea-level rise, a new Tulane University study concludes.
Invasive and native marsh grasses may provide similar benefits to protected wetlands
An invasive species of marsh grass that spreads, kudzu-like, throughout North American wetlands, may provide similar benefits to protected wetlands as native marsh grasses.
Wintering ducks connect isolated wetlands by dispersing plant seeds
Plant populations in wetland areas face increasing isolation as wetlands are globally under threat from habitat loss and fragmentation.
More Wetlands News and Wetlands Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#534 Bacteria are Coming for Your OJ
What makes breakfast, breakfast? Well, according to every movie and TV show we've ever seen, a big glass of orange juice is basically required. But our morning grapefruit might be in danger. Why? Citrus greening, a bacteria carried by a bug, has infected 90% of the citrus groves in Florida. It's coming for your OJ. We'll talk with University of Maryland plant virologist Anne Simon about ways to stop the citrus killer, and with science writer and journalist Maryn McKenna about why throwing antibiotics at the problem is probably not the solution. Related links: A Review of the Citrus Greening...