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Soil, conservation experts to reflect on Hurricane Katrina disaster

Two years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and parts of the Gulf Coast, soil scientists and conservation leaders will share lessons learned during the International Annual Meetings of the American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), and Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) Nov. 7-8 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.

The symposium, Katrina Disaster and Sustainable Coastal Development: An Integrated Perspective and the Role of Land and Water Sciences, will include more than 10 speakers on Wednesday, Nov. 7 from 1:45 to 3:45 pm (room R02) and Thursday, Nov. 8 from 8 to 10 am (room 207).

Hurricane Katrina provided the scientific community with an unparalleled opportunity to guide both ecosystem restoration and the design of measures to protect lives and properties from violent natural events, says Charles Groat of the Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin, who will open the symposium.

On Nov. 7, the symposium will focus on the storms impact on the land, the role wetlands could play in protecting the area, and the sociopolitical and scientific processes of land and resource management.

Rapid degradation of the Mississippi River delta and climate change are placing the physical and socioeconomic sustainability of coastal Louisiana in doubt, says speaker William Jenkins of Louisiana State University. We must pursue aggressive coastal restoration or face the daunting implications of inaction.

Another key aspect to understanding and preparing for environmental disasters is sharing information about resources. William Puckett, Christopher Smith, and Karl Hipple of the Natural Resources Conservation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture will address the importance of generating custom products, such as interpretative maps with soil suitability data, and training response agency personnel how to properly interpret soils information related to disaster. Additional speakers will include Ed Link, University of Maryland, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Robert Dean, University of Florida, Civil and Coastal Engineering.

On Nov. 8, the symposium will take a broader look at hurricane patterns over the years, global climate change and Louisianas ongoing recovery and future. Steven Hamburg of the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department at Brown University will discuss the impact of a storms frequency and intensity on ecosystem resistance and resilience. Increased storm intensity, for example, might impact the resistance of Gulf Coast forests. Chris Renschler of the University of Buffalo and National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis will address the potential of integrated natural resources management as a tool for managing natural disasters.

Field studies, remote sensing, Geographic Information Systems and process-based environmental models are increasingly used in combination to support decision- and policy-making in natural resources or natural hazards management, Renschler says. Communication is key among all of these areas.

Rattan Lal of Ohio State University and the Carbon Management & Sequestration Center will concentrate on opportunities for soil carbon sequestration to mitigate the ongoing effects of global warming. Additional speakers will include John Logan of Brown Universitys Department of Sociology, Bob Jacobsen of the URS Corporation, and G. Paul Kemp of the Baton Rouge National Audubon Society.


Contact: Sara Uttech
Soil Science Society of America

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