Rising Sea Greater Danger to Louisiana than Sinking Land

Nov 27, 2006

Rising sea levels, fueled by melting polar ice caps, may well pose a greater threat to Louisiana than the sinking of its land, a new Tulane University study says.

The study appeared in last week’s issue of Eos. Published by the American Geophysical Union, “Eos” is the world’s most widely read geoscience periodical.

In the article Torbjörn Törnqvist, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences at Tulane, shows that the rate at which parts of the Mississippi Delta are sinking is at least ten times less than has been recently claimed.

The biggest danger for coastal Louisiana is rising sea level which, according to Törnqvist, has been as much as four times more rapid over the past century than during the previous thousand years. The rate of sea-level rise is expected to at least double in the next century. Higher sea level increases the impact of storm surge and the vulnerability of hurricane-prone areas.

Protecting Louisiana from storms in the future must involve reducing global warming, the main cause of rising sea levels, restoring the loss of wetlands and barrier islands and building better levees, Törnqvist says.

Source: Tulane University

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