Washing Away: Historic and Projected Erosion Along Louisiana’s Coast
The Mississippi River Delta in South Louisiana represents the seventh largest delta in the entire world. Many factors have contributed to our land loss, including channelization of the river for development (cutting off the river’s rebuilding process,) subsidence, development for economic reasons, salt water encroachment, and many other factors, but one fact remains the same: these wetlands are in peril because Louisiana currently undergoes about 90 percent of the total coastal wetland loss in the continental United States.*
From 1932 to 2010, analyses show coastal Louisiana has lost nearly 1,900 square miles, and there are miles of areas that have nearly converted to open water but are not yet classified as a “loss.”
In 2010 alone, due to the devastating Hurricanes Katrina and Rita packing a one-two punch to Louisiana’s coast line, Louisiana lost an additional 217 square miles in 2010 alone.**
*Couvillion, B.R., Barras, J.A., Steyer, G.D., Sleavin, William, Fischer, Michelle, Beck, Holly, Trahan, Nadine, Griffin, Brad, and Heckman, David, 2011, Land area change in coastal Louisiana from 1932 to 2010: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Map 3164, scale 1:265,000, 12 p. pamphlet.
** Barras, J.A., 2007, Satellite images and aerial photographs of the effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on coastal Louisiana: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 281, at http://pubs.usgs.gov/ds/2007/281.