Stunning new data not yet publicly released shows Louisiana losing its battle with rising seas much more quickly than even the most pessimistic studies have predicted to date.
While state officials continue to argue over restoration projects to save the state’s sinking, crumbling coast, top researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have concluded that Louisiana is in line for the highest rate of sea-level rise “on the planet.”
The news of NOAA’s new calculations comes on the heels a 2011 U.S. Geological Survey report, which found that coastal Louisiana had lost 1,883 square miles of land between 1932 and 2010 — an area almost the size of the state of Delaware. (See the map at the top of this post.) From 1985 to 2010, the report found a rate of wetland loss amounting to 16.57 square miles every year. That works out to the loss of an area the size of one football field every hour.
Nearly half of that wetland loss occurred in the Terrebonne and Barataria wetland basins. These are home to Terrebonne Parish, source of inspiration to Beasts director Zeitlin, and neighboring Lafourche parish. (The latter was in the news in early January, with reports of cemeteries washing away.)