NWRC Response to Hurricane Gustav

From the National Wetlands Research Center:

Hurricane Gustav primarily damaged barrier islands when it hit the Louisiana coast Sept. 1 as a category 2 hurricane, according to scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wetlands Research Center in Lafayette, La.

Tommy Michot, USGS biologist who has flown the Louisiana coast for decades, said, “It looks like most of the structural landscape damage was to barrier islands like Raccoon Island, which lost about a third of its area. The area was mostly low and unvegetated before the storm. But it will take months before a full wetland assessment can be completed. USGS will be acquiring coastwide photography and satellite imagery this fall to assist in long-term monitoring.”

Wetlands and coastal marshes are natural buffers from storm surge and hurricane force winds. NWRC has been monitoring wetland changes in Louisiana since 1976. Some of the changes due to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita are documented in the USGS publication, Science and the Storms: the USGS Response to the Hurricanes of 2005.

Coastal Louisiana had lost more than 1900 square miles of coastal land since the 1930s. The center calculated that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita caused the loss of an additional 217 square miles of coastal wetlands to open water in 2005. In 2006, the center determined that only about 19 square miles of coastal wetlands had been recovered. The center will continue to determine wetland change based on the analysis of satellite data, aerial photography and ground observation.

To see pictures of the Post-Gustav surveys, and learn more about the effects of Hurricanes on our Gulf Wetlands visit the NWRC website

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~ by vermilionaire on September 8, 2008.

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