Claim: Louisiana wetlands ‘struggling’ with sea-level rise four times the global average

Too stupid for words.

When sea level rises, it rises everywhere by the same amount. (Experiment with this idea at home in the bath.) To the extent different coastal areas experience differences in “sea level rise,” the differences are not due to general sea level rise, but are due to local land changes (i.e., from like land use, subsidence or tectonics). So Louisiana wetlands may be sinking faster relative other locales in relation to whatever rise in sea-level may be occurring generally. But sea level is not rising faster along the Gulf coast.

Along these lines is a letter submitted to Tulane magazine by friend Dr. Charles Battig:

Letter to the editor, Tulane Magazine
Attn: Ms. Mary Ann Travis

Professor Tornqvist sees costal salvation in atmospheric trace gasses. In 1897 the locals knew better.

“It is a fact well known to people living in the delta of the Mississippi that large tracks of land were long ago abandoned in consequence of overflow by gulf waters due to the sinking of the lands” National Geographic 1897 volume 8, #12, Corthell, (pg.353). Also, Virginia Institute of Marine Science (J. Boon 2010): “about 53% of the relative sea level rise measured at bay water level stations is…due to local subsidence,” and “… along the U.S. Atlantic coast, there is…no evidence of a statistically significant increase marking an acceleration in RSL rise…” Apparent coastal sea-level rise is secondary to local geological mechanics.

Climate research centers acknowledge 18 years of no change in atmospheric temperature, even as CO2 has increased 10 per cent. Average sea-level rise remains at 7-12 inches per hundred years, and may decrease if global temperatures decrease as some climatologists are predicting. CO2 storage projects have been failures in the U.S. and in Norway.

Charles G. Battig, M.S. ’57, M.D.’61


The media release is below.


Louisiana wetlands struggling with sea-level rise four times the global average

Without major efforts to rebuild Louisiana’s wetlands, particularly in the westernmost part of the state, there is little chance that the coast will be able to withstand the accelerating rate of sea-level rise, a new Tulane University study concludes.

The study by researchers in Tulane’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and published in the open-access journal Nature Communications shows that the rate of sea-level rise in the region over the past six to 10 years amounts to half an inch per year on average.

“In the Mississippi Delta, about 65 percent of study sites are probably still keeping pace, but in the westernmost part of coastal Louisiana, more than 60 percent of sites are on track to drown,” said Tulane geology professor Torbjörn E. Törnqvist, a co-author of the study.

Törnqvist conducted the research with lead author and PhD candidate Krista L. Jankowski and co-author Anjali M. Fernandes, a former postdoc in Törnqvist’s group who is now at the University of Connecticut.

The researchers used an unconventional method to measure sea-level change that integrated information from different data sources. They analyzed measurements of shallow subsidence rates at 274 sites across the coast and combined these with published GPS-measurements of deeper subsidence rates. Adding published satellite observations of the rise of the sea surface in the Gulf of Mexico, they were able to calculate how rapidly sea level is rising with respect to the coastal wetland surface.

“The bottom line is that in order to assess how dire the situation is in Louisiana, this new dataset is a huge step forward compared to anything we’ve done before,” Törnqvist said.

Justin Lawrence of the National Science Foundation, which provided funding for the study, agreed.

“These researchers have developed a new method of evaluating whether coastal marshes in Louisiana will be submerged by rising sea levels,” Lawrence said. “The findings suggest that a large portion of coastal marshes in Louisiana are vulnerable to present-day sea-level rise. This work may provide an early indication of what is to occur in coastal regions around the world later this century.”


The research was made possible through publicly available data collected under the auspices of Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and the US Geological Survey.

16 thoughts on “Claim: Louisiana wetlands ‘struggling’ with sea-level rise four times the global average”

  1. I FIGURED IT OUT! Louisiana is tipping over on a north to south line! Too many tourists flocking to New Orleans. Or something. [/snark]

  2. If we believe we can “save daylight” by changing our clocks, what else can we believe?

  3. Coastal Louisiana along the Mississippi River delta has the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to entirely blame for any loss of wetlands and subsidence. Same goes for the saltwater infiltration of southern Florida and the Lake Okefenokee wetlands.

    Big government = big failures
    Big failures = big tax bills to fix

  4. “Sea-level rise” used to mean the sea level is actually rising.
    But even if there was a true “sea level rise” in Louisiana (4 x the world average) it is still nowhere near Al Gore’s predictions of 20-30 feet of rising by 2100.
    An honest summary would have been “Louisiana scientists debunk Al Gore’s claims.” But there are no funds available for such honest science.

  5. “there is little chance that the coast will be able to withstand the accelerating rate of sea-level rise,” There will always be a “coast”. That is merely the line between the land and the ocean. So what does it mean “there is little chance that the coast will be able”? It means absolutely nothing. Zilch. Nada. How an educated person writes a line like that is sort of amazing. What they want the readers to hear is that all of their pretty houses and cars and garages are doing to disappear one day in a giant high tide. Oh my! (Then send money 🙂 )

  6. Totally agree with above comments. I’m from The delta area(Plaquemines Parish) so I’m very familiar with this problem. Levees prevent nutrient rich silt depositing back into the delta. This is one of the reasons why orange trees grow and thrive in the area. Also, the oil industry, creating pipelines, dredging, digging canals, has taken a toll on the marsh as well! This in conjunction with the levees leaves us vulnerable to erosion. The title should have read: Louisiana wetlands are eroding at 4 times the average of other coasts. That’s my take on it.

  7. It cracks me up every time there’s some major story about how sea level rise could, might, maybe, is envisioned, etc, etc. to inundate a city, island, state, etc. Use the words interchangeably. Silly Chicken Little prophesies, with no scientific basis of fact. This really has to stop, and let the Human race get on with life and its living.

  8. Was this study done by Liberal Arts majors? The total lack of true research today is stunning. How could you not read up on ALL the papers on these wetlands and their history. As noted above, the acceleration of the Mississippi and the confining of it have reduced the silt deposits for these wetlands thus ensuring their “sinking” due to erosion.

    And yeah, how does one shore water level rise four times greater than the world average? Did that not strike anyone on their team as odd??? Good grief.

  9. Yup! Thet thar sea level rise is a pilin’ up in them wetlands. Thet thar science is settled!

  10. Question: are these university “scientists” really that stupid, or is it their premise that we, the readers of their output pandering to global warming political correctness, are?

  11. First para:

    Without major efforts to rebuild Louisiana’s wetlands, particularly in the westernmost part of the state, there is little chance that the coast will be able to withstand the accelerating rate of sea-level rise, a new Tulane University study concludes.

    So much wrong with science written like this.
    This is the abuse of science.

  12. I believe that this ignores previous studies that claim that the flood control program along the entire length of the Mississippi. With the levees in place and other flood control measures the flow rate of the river has increased resulting in the silt being deposited further out into the gulf and not replenishing the delta.

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