Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects engineering hydrology and hydraulics with global, economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Rachel Arnold makes this connection here…

The article entitled “Louisiana’s Moon Shot to Rescue its Coast” was an article in Scientific American on December 10th, 2014.  The article relates to hydraulics as it looks at channel flow in the Mississippi Delta region. The article covers the erosion of coastal wetlands in Louisiana and what is being done to mitigate the damage. The issue dealt with in the article is applied fluid mechanics and distribution of water. The engineers and scientists dealing with coastal erosion in Louisiana and are trying to figure out the best way to deal with the erosion.  The erosion is dealt with in two different ways:  By pumping sand into wetlands which is only temporary and diverting sediment from the river.  Based on my engineering knowledge and Land Loss Rates: Louisiana Coastal Plain in the Journal of Coastal Research and Scientific Assessment of Coastal Wetland Loss, Restoration and Management in Louisiana. What the article misses is the various reasons why restoring the coastline of Louisiana may be a lost cause or go into greater detail as to why these plans might fail.

This article can be seen in the broader context of climate change.  As the climate changes more and more cities will face what Louisiana is facing right now.  Virginia is facing something similar to Louisiana in terms of loss of coastline but much more slowly and Virginia’s government has all but ignored the problem due to denial of climate change.  Soon, Virginia, as well as other states, will not be able to ignore the problem and may face problems of a similar scope to the one Louisiana faces. Otherwise, their economies will suffer as well as their residents.  According to Nicholls’ article Climate Change and Coastal Vulnerability Assessment:  Scenarios for Integrated Assessment climate change will continue be a challenge for Virginia.  With rising population in that area human impact on the coastal areas will continue to increase and the areas will continue to become less livable.  As well, strategies for dealing with these coastal pressures are still in their infancy.  Increasing erosion on coasts has an impact on tourism, agriculture, aquiculture, oil and the homes of the people who live near the coast.

Link: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/louisiana-s-moon-shot-to-rescue-its-coast/


Nicholls, R. J., Wong, PP., Burkett, V., Woodroffe, C.D., Hay, J. Climate change and coastal vulnerability assessment: scenarios for integrated assessment. Integrated Research System for Sustainability Science, 2008

Boesch, D.F., Josslyn, M.N., Mehta, A.J., Morris, J.T., Nuttle, W.K., Simedstad, C.A., Swift D.J.P.  Scientific Assessment of Coastal Wetland Loss, Restoration and Management.  Journal of Coastal Research, 1994, No. 20

Britsch, L.D., Dunbar, J.B. Land Loss Rates: Louisiana Coastal Plain.  Journal of Coastal Research, 1993