Monday, February 06, 2017

COTW: Shoreline Losses in Louisiana

A study by the USGS using airborne remote sensing has determined that the
Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the largest in US history, has caused significant erosion of the shoreline in the Mississippi Delta region. The study looked at the shore of northern Barataria Bay a year before the spill until 2.5 years after the disaster in April to September, 2010.  The researchers compared the wetlands loss after the spill to loss of wetlands after Hurricane Issac in 2012.  They found widespread loss of shore due to crude oil coating whereas the hurricane caused only isolated losses of wetland. [see chart] Being able to compare the two events and their effect was key to correlating causation for marshland erosion. Scientists say the losses will further impact natural defenses against flooding since river levees prevent the depositing of sediments needed to reform fragmented barrier islands and eroded marshes.  The study is presented in the journal "Geophysical Research Letters"