Louisiana Coast Faces Highest Rate of Sea-Level Rise Worldwide

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 Stunning new data not yet publicly released shows Louisiana losing its battle with rising seas much more quickly than even the most pessimistic studies have predicted.

While state officials continue to argue over restoration projects to save the state’s sinking, crumbling coast, top researchers at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration have concluded that Louisiana is in line for the highest rate of sea-level rise “on the planet.” Indeed, the water is rising so fast that some coastal restoration projects could be obsolete before they are completed, the officials said.

NOAA’s Tim Osborne, an 18-year veteran of Louisiana coastal surveys, and Steve Gill, senior scientist at the agency’s Center for Operational Oceanographic Pro­ducts and Services, spelled out the grim reality in interviews with The Lens. When new data on the rate of coastal subsidence is married with updated projections of sea-level rise, the southeast corner of Louisiana looks likely to be under at least 4.3 feet of gulf water by the end of the century.

That rate could swamp projects in the state’s current coastal Master Plan, which incorporated worst-case scenarios for relative sea-level rise calculated two years ago— which the new figures now make out-of-date.

The state plan, while “valuable and thoughtful,” has a major flaw, Osborne said.

“The problem is it’s a master plan for the restoration and conservation of a landscape that is moving downward at a faster rate than we realized when the plan was constructed—a rate faster than any place else we are seeing in the world for such a large land area,” said Osborne, who will be a speaker Saturday at Tulane University’s Summit on Environmental Law and Policy.

“With all due respect,” he said, “they have projects designed to last 50 years at one level of relative sea-level rise, when they should be building projects that can function for several generations as sea level rises twice as high, if not higher.” Read more here.
 

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