Vulnerability of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands to present-day rates of relative sea-level rise

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Krista L. Jankowski, Torbjorn Tornqvist, Anjali M Fernandes 


Coastal Louisiana has lost about 5,000km2 of wetlands over the past century and concern exists whether remaining wetlands will persist while facing some of the world’s highest rates of relative sea-level rise (RSLR). Here we analyse an unprecedented data set derived from 274 rod surface-elevation table-marker horizon stations, to determine present-day surface-elevation change, vertical accretion and shallow subsidence rates. Comparison of vertical accretion rates with RSLR rates at the land surface (present-day RSLR rates are 12±8mm per year) shows that 65% of wetlands in the Mississippi Delta (SE Louisiana) may keep pace with RSLR, whereas 58% of the sites in the Chenier Plain (SW Louisiana) do not, rendering much of this area highly vulnerable to RLSR. At least 60% of the total subsidence rate occurs within the uppermost 5–10m, which may account for the higher vulnerability of coastal Louisiana wetlands compared to their counterparts elsewhere.



Civil and Environmental Engineering, Earth Sciences, Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Environmental Monitoring, Environmental Sciences, Geology, Geomorphology, Hydrology, Natural Resources Management and Policy, Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Risk Analysis, Sedimentology, Soil Science, Stratigraphy, Sustainability


sediment supply, Deltas, coastal restoration, coastal subsidence, Mississippi River, sediment compaction, surface accretion, wetlands


Published: 2018-10-01 06:21


GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) 2.1