Archive for NOAA
From CWPPRA Newsflash:
What are viable strategies for addressing our coastal erosion in light of sea level rise, subsidence, hurricanes and oil spills?
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill dumped nearly five million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, with Louisiana's coast receiving the greatest percentage of direct ecological damage. Three years later, a civil trial is taking place to determine the financial liability of BP and three other companies for the impact to the five Gulf states.
Eighty percent of penalties paid by the responsible parties will go toward Gulf Coast restoration. But will it be money well-spent? The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently predicted that Louisiana's southeastern coast is likely to be under at least 4.3 feet of water by the end of the century. What does that mean for projects in Louisiana's Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast? What are viable strategies for addressing the state's coastal erosion in light of sea level rise, subsidence, hurricanes and oil spills? Louisiana Public Square explores these issues and more on "Louisiana Coastal Concerns: BP and Beyond" Wednesday, April 24th at 7 p.m. CT on LPB HD, and at 9 p.m. on WLAE-TV in New Orleans.
This week, the La. Public Broadcasting TV program Louisiana Public Square focuses on "Coastal Concerns: BP and Beyond." The program will air statewide on LPB stations this Wednesday at 7 p.m. statewide, and at 9 p.m. on WLAE-TV in New Orleans.
The panelists are:
- Windell Curole, Director, South Lafourche Levee District
- Christopher D'Elia, Ph. D., Dean, LSU School of the Coast and Environment
- Garrett Graves, Chair of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority
- Mark Schleifstein, environmental reporter for The Times-Picayune
Kirby Goidel, Director of the LSU Public Policy Research Lab, will moderate. Beth Courtney, LPB president, will host.
Two years after the start of the BP oil spill, dolphins in the northern Gulf of Mexico are dying in unprecedented numbers. This month marks a record-shattering 26 consecutive months of above-average dolphin strandings. Only 5 percent of the stranded dolphins were recovered alive and their prognosis was usually poor.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently did an in-depth study of 32 dolphins in Barataria Bay, an area that was heavily oiled during the BP oil spill. The researchers found that many of the animals were underweight, anemic, had low hormone levels, low blood sugar, and some had signs of liver damage. These symptoms are consistent with those seen in other mammals exposed to oil. One of the dolphins in the study has since been found dead.
As a top-level predator, the poor health of dolphins in the most heavily oiled areas suggests possible ecosystem-wide effects of the oil. Dolphins can inhale oil vapors, ingest oil when feeding, absorb it through their skin or eat contaminated fish.
Scientists with NOAA are continuing to investigate the factors that may be contributing to the dolphin mortalities.No Comments
Two years after the start of the oil spill, a significant stretch of the Gulf Coast remains affected.
A recent article in National Geographic quotes Jacqueline Michel, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) coordinator for the Shoreline Clean-up Assessment Program saying, “The current oiling, where you still see anything on the shoreline, is around 450 miles as of February 25.” The affected areas stretch from Louisiana to Florida.
An earlier NOAA report documented a total of 1,050 total linear miles of oiled shoreline in the period after the spill. In April 2011—one year after the spill began—mostly light oil or tar balls persisted on more than 500 linear miles of shoreline. Extrapolating from these two data points—both from NOAA—it appears that only an additional 50 or so miles have been cleaned in the past year.
By Angelina Freeman (Environmental Defense Fund), David Muth (National Wildlife Federation), and Bryan Piazza (The Nature Conservancy)
The Louisiana Coastal Area Program (LCA) Science and Technology Office and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) convened a meeting Feb. 23-24 on the technical issues of freshwater river diversions and the response of wetland soils and vegetation. The plants in coastal wetlands will drown if they cannot keep up with rising water levels.
This fact is especially evident in Louisiana, where the gradual rise of sea level is made relatively worse by rapid rates of subsidence (sinking land). To maintain surface elevations within the intertidal zone, wetlands need to add soil. Luckily, both by capturing sand and clay from the water and – just as importantly – by adding organic matter through root growth and leaf drop, healthy wetlands can increase their elevation.
One critical tool for ensuring the health of coastal Louisiana is to reconnect the wetlands to the river with diversions of river water and sediments. Diversions mimic the natural delta cycle that was interrupted with river levees and channelization. It is important that we develop a thorough understanding of the effects of river diversions on wetland plants and soils so that future management and restoration are based on a sound understanding of the biophysical controls on soil surface elevation and how they can be optimized for restoration.
Nutrient inputs to the Mississippi River and its tributaries have increased in recent decades, creating a desire for basin-wide nutrient mitigation strategies to alleviate problems, such as Gulf hypoxia (when oxygen concentrations fall below the level necessary to sustain most animal life, a.k.a. the Dead Zone). While coastal wetlands have been shown to efficiently take up nutrients, there are questions regarding impacts of excess nutrients to wetland structure and function, which underscore the importance of nutrient reduction.
Scientists at last week’s workshop explored these questions from multiple perspectives and presented research investigating controls on marsh elevation, factors determining marsh soil and vegetation response, marsh characterization, consequences of river diversions to belowground productivity, and effects of salinity and nutrients on plant growth and soil organic matter decomposition. Abstracts of the presentations can be found on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ website.
Freshwater diversions are useful for multiple purposes, including: protecting drinking water, providing nutrient inputs to maintain plant production, and maintaining down-basin salinities to increase fish and wildlife productivity. Most of the diversions in Louisiana are called “freshwater diversions” because their discharge contains relatively little sediment. Many of the speakers agreed that for the restoration of Louisiana’s wetlands, it is important to maximize the amount of sediment in diversions for land building.
A position paper will be developed by a technical panel to address what is known about Mississippi River diversions, where chief uncertainties are, the direction on science needed to reduce uncertainties, and recommendations for operation of existing structures. Presentation abstracts, other workshop information, and post-workshop products can be accessed on the workshop website.No Comments