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Bays on US Gulf Coast vulnerable to flooding
Date:10/2/2008

n at a rate today that approaches what we saw in the Holocene," Anderson said.

He said the Holocene was also marked by alternating wet and dry periods upstream, particularly in central and western Texas. There was significantly less sediment flowing into the bays during the dry periods, and the researchers found that the most dramatic flooding events occurred when less sediment was flowing into the bays at the same time that sea levels were rising faster than four millimeters per year.

Anderson said that's a particularly troubling finding because several recent studies have confirmed that the rate of sea-level rise along the Gulf Coast has doubled in the past century to a current rate of about three millimeters per year. At the same time, the installation of dams upstream has slashed the amount of sediment flowing into every southern U.S. bay.

"Our research paints a pretty clear picture of what happened in these bays the last time they encountered the circumstances that we expect to see during the coming century," Anderson said. "Our hope is that policymakers will take note of the potential danger and take steps to help alleviate it."

For example, Anderson said it doesn't make environmental sense to keep a navigation channel open between the lower Trinity River and upper Galveston Bay because the channel diverts the sediment that is flowing into the bay, preventing it from replenishing the upper bay wetlands near Anahuac.

"Now that we're aware of the dangers, there are clearly things we can do to try and avoid them," he said.


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Contact: Jade Boyd
jadeboyd@rice.edu
713-348-6778
Rice University
Source:Eurekalert

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