The Fastest Sea Level Rise on Planet Earth? The Southeast Louisiana Coast
As post-Katrina, post-BP coastal restoration projects continue along Louisiana’s gulf coast, many of the projects may already be obsolete. Researchers are about to announce that sea levels are rising on the Louisiana coast faster than anywhere else on earth.
In interviews with The Lens in New Orleans, NOAA researchers paint a grim picture of the Louisiana coastline, which is slowly sinking at the time when seas are rising. Southeast Louisiana will be under 4.3 feet of water by the end of the century. The region is, on average, only 3.5 feet above sea level now.
A recently-written master plan for coastal restoration is already essentially out of date. “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,” Tim Osborne, a NOAA researcher told The Lens.
“Our goal is to provide meaningful numbers that local planners can use as targets for what they need to prepare for and adapt to, and what these numbers tell us is that we need to be planning for the reality that by the end of this century most of this coast will be converted to open water,” Osborn said. “People are already questioning the wisdom of spending huge sums to protect Louisiana. The state needs to make sure they’re proposing plans that will last more than a few decades, that they aren’t asking for billions to build things that might be ineffective before they are even finished being built.”