Adaptations to Reduce Vulnerability of Coastal Landscapes: Lessons from the Gulf Coast

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1 Adaptations to Reduce Vulnerability of Coastal Landscapes: Lessons from the Gulf Coast Robert R. Twilley Department of Oceanography and Coastal Science Louisiana State University (1) What is the Problem?

2 Federal Projects with purpose to Protect and Serve the Public Good; With Long-term Unintended Consequences Flood Control ( to present) Coastal Oil and Gas Exploration ( ) Navigation ( ) Agriculture ( )

3 (2) What is at Stake?

4 (1) In 2005, commercial landings had value of $253 million that was 25% of total for lower 48 states; (2) About $1 billion recreational fishing industry; One-third of national marine recreational fishery; (3) Habitat for five million wintering waterfowl, 25% of NA puddle duckpopulation; critical nesting habitat for shorebirds; $50 million spent annually hunting; (4) Natural Resource Economies are Linked to Environmental Sustainability;

5 (3) What Processes are at Work? Managing River and Coastal Processes linked with Engineering Design to Develop a Self- Maintaining Delta Landscape (footprint)

6 Tidal/River Flooding Nutrient Input PRIMARY PRODUCTION SEA LEVEL Increase Sea Level Coastal Vulnerability: 1. Natural Systems Vulnerability: Susceptibility to biogeophysical impacts of sea-level rise on wetlands relative to their adaptation (resilience); SUBSIDENCE change RSL by 2100

7 There are critical thresholds of accretion relative to rise in water levels that determine the stability of coastal wetlands. Relative Rise in Water Level, mm/yr Subsidence, 2 mm/yr Spatial: Relative Rise Delta Max Lagoon Max Time: Sea Level Rise Carbonate Max Threshold Accretion Rate, mm/yr Sea Level Rise, mm/yr

8 There are critical thresholds of accretion relative to rise in water levels that determine the stability of coastal wetlands. Relative Rise in Water Level, mm/yr Subsidence, 2 mm/yr Degradation Delta HGM Restoration Threshold Accretion Rate, mm/yr Sea Level Rise, mm/yr

9 (3) What Processes are at Work Managing River and Coastal Processes linked with Engineering Design to Develop a Self- Maintaining Delta Landscape (footprint) (4) What Can Be Done to Reduce Vulnerability

10 Freshwater Diversion Structures Mississippi Mississippi Atchafalaya Atchafalaya Baton Rouge River River River River Davis Pond 1,200 mi 2 New Orleans Caernarvon Gulf of Mexico

11 March 5, 2001 March 21, 2001 The Mississippi River Diversion at Caernarvon MODIS image of Diversion Flow

12 HOW MUCH SEDIMENT IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FOR DELTA BUILDING IN THE MISSISSIPPI DELTA? Input: ~ 208 Mt/yr Atchafalaya River: ~ 84 Mt/yr Lower Mississippi River: ~ 124 Mt/yr Wax Lake Delta: ~ 34 Mt/yr Suspended sediment loads Atchafalaya Delta: ~ 50 Mt/yr

13 OUR MODEL CAN REPRODUCE THE WAX LAKE DELTA S PAST Before start of delta growth

14 THE MODEL CAN REPRODUCE THE WAX LAKE DELTA S PAST Yellow: 38 Mt/yr White: 25 Mt/yr (suspended load)

15 THE MODEL CAN REPRODUCE THE WAX LAKE DELTA S PAST Yellow: 38 Mt/yr White: 25 Mt/yr (suspended load)

16 THE MODEL CAN REPRODUCE THE WAX LAKE DELTA S PAST Yellow: 38 Mt/yr White: 25 Mt/yr (suspended load)

17 PREDICTIONS INTO THE FUTURE OF THE WAX LAKE DELTA HIGH HIGH LOW LOW HIGH: Solid line, 38 Mt/yr; LOW dotted line: 25 Mt/yr (suspended load)

18 MIGRATION OF THE MODEL FROM WAX LAKE TO THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER BELOW NEW ORLEANS: Two diversions: Barataria Bay and Breton Sound (CLEAR plan)

19 Developing a Self-Maintaining Coast is Possible (Gary Parker, Wonsuck Kim, Univ Ilinois) VARIATION: SEA-LEVEL RISE = 4 mm/yr, SUBSIDENCE = 10 mm/yr Solid line: variant case Dotted line: base case Worst case : still 701 km 2 of new land And extra land-building due to organics is not yet included

20 1. Socioeconomic Systems Vulnerability: Susceptibility of biogeophysical impacts of sealevel rise on human systems relative to capability of technical, institutional, economic and cultural ability to adapt to these impacts; Risk to Present Protection Levels: 16 inch increase in sea level may cause a five-fold estimate in people at risk. Enhanced Protection: sea level rise still reduces the capacity of enhanced protection

21

22 Regional Land Use Planning is Linked to Sustainable Coastal Landscape.

23 Land Use and Climate Change - Challenges for Aggressive Restoration Actions Adaptations To Achieve Coastal Sustainability

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