Hurricane Katrina made landfall August 29, 2005 becoming the costliest ($75 billion) and one of the deadliest (nearly 2,000 human lives lost) hurricanes in U.S. history. With the nation still reeling from Katrina, Hurricane Rita hit on September 24, 2005, causing $10 billion in damage but taking a far less direct toll on human lives. The duo's ecological consequences were also considerable: storm surges flooded coastal areas. Powerful winds felled forests in south Louisiana and Mississippi, havens for wildlife and migratory birds. Saltwater and polluted floodwaters from New Orleans surged into Lake Pontchartrain. Taking stock nearly a year later, experts from the Gulf Coast region will address the storms' ecological consequences and will offer insights on how ecological knowledge can help mitigate damage from future hurricanes.
"Not only is the City of New Orleans built on reclaimed wetlands that have subsided by up to 5 meters, over 25 percent of coastal wetlands disappeared in the 20th century," says John Day (Louisiana State University). Day, one of the symposia's presenters, argues that serious wetland restoration plans must close or restrict the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, a canal that contributed to the flooding of New Orleans and that disconnects the river from its delta plain. Wetlands help stem storm surges and diffuse powerful winds.
Complementing Day's argument, Paul Keddy (Southeastern Louisiana University) believes residents in the Gulf Coast states will have to decide if they want "business as usual" or a dramatic change in the way people accept the limitations and realities of dynamic coastal areas. During his presentation, Keddy will lay out what he sees as the connections between hurricanes, human irrationality, and Gulf Coast ecosystems. "From the American dust bowl to the collapse of the Canadian cod fishery, people have chosen development trajectories that are catastrophic in the longer term," he says.
Gary Shaffer (Southeastern Louisiana University) will suggest some concrete wetlands restoration steps that he believes will need to go hand-in-hand with human-made flood control barriers. "Bald cypress - water tupelo swamps are particularly effective at dampening forward progress of both floodwaters and winds," he notes. Shaffer believes that cypress and tupelo seedlings could achieve 10 meter heights within a single decade and serve as major storm damage reduction agents.
Looking specifically at Louisiana's Lake Pontchartrain, Carlton Dufrechou's (Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to restoring and preserving the Lake Pontchartrain Basin) presentation will include post-storm satellite imagery that suggests that Hurricane Katrina may have destroyed over 60 square miles of the lake's wetlands in a mere 24 hour period. "As more coastal areas disappear, residents in the region become more vulnerable to the effects of tropical storms and hurricanes," says Dufrechou. On a brighter note, however, the lake's water quality appears to have recovered to pre-Katrina conditions, in spite of being the recipient of nearly nine billion gallons of highly contaminated water pumped out of New Orleans and into the lake.
Upcycling 'fast fashion' to reduce waste and pollution
03.04.2017 | American Chemical Society
Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...
Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.
A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
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21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy