Implications of Accelerated Sea-Level Rise on Louisiana Coastal Environments

by Karen E. Ramsey, Louisiana Geological Survey, Baton Rouge, United States,
Shea Penland, Louisiana Geological Survey, Baton Rouge, United States,
Harry H. Roberts, Louisiana Geological Survey, Baton Rouge, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastal Sediments


Natural and human-induced processes have combined to produce high rates of relative sea-level rise and coastal land loss in Louisiana. This paper presents historical trends in sea-level rise and the implication of predicted accelerated rise scenarios on Louisiana's coastal environments. Mean eustatic sea-level in the Gulf of Mexico is 0.23 cm/yr. In Louisiana, relative sea-level rise, which combines eustacy and subsidence, averages from 0.50 cm/yr in the chenier plain to 1.0 cm/yr in the delta plain. Subsidence due to the compaction of Holocene sediments is believed to be the major component influencing these high rates of rise. Subsidence contributes up to 80% of the observed relative sea-level rise in coastal Louisiana. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) predicts the rate of sea-level rise to increase over the next century due to global climate change. If these predictions are accurate, a dramatic increase in the coastal land loss conditions in Louisiana can be expected.

Subject Headings: Sea level | Coastal processes | Land subsidence | Wetlands (coastal) | Gulfs | Developing countries | Climate change | Human and behavioral factors | Louisiana | United States | Gulf of Mexico

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