School of Earth, Environmental, and Marine Sciences Faculty Publications and Presentations

Coastal Louisiana in crisis: Subsidence or sea level rise?

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The drowning of wetlands and barrier islands in coastal Louisiana has become a widely publicized environmental catastrophe in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. The devastation caused by these storms has reenergized the debate about restoring the natural coastal-defense system and building higher and sturdier levees, in anticipation of future storms. Understanding the contributions of land subsidence and eustatic (global) sea level rise to Louisiana's wetland loss is crucial to the success of any plan designed to protect coastal communities. It is argued here that accelerated sea level rise in the future may pose a larger threat than subsidence for considerable portions of coastal Louisiana.


©2006. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.

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Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union