Boulder, CO, USA Counting on wetlands restoration projects to protect storm buffeted infrastructure along the Louisiana Coast is likely to be a "losing battle" that provides "false hope" and prevents endangered communities from clearly planning for their future, says a researcher from Western Carolina University (WCU).
As hurricanes have pounded the Gulf of Mexico this fall, the media has been filled with the words of politicians, policy makers, NGOs and local communities touting the importance of ongoing wetlands restoration projects as long-term storm protection for coastal communities and infrastructure. Unfortunately, there's little science to support this growing belief.
"I think that's a potentially dangerous message" said Robert Young, director of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at WCU. "While I think that wetland restoration is a worthy goal, there's almost no scientific evidence that suggests that we will be able to put the wetlands back on the scale and nature needed to reduce storm impacts."
Young is scheduled to present recommendations from a recent white paper, co-authored by 26 leading coastal scientists and engineers, on Tuesday, 7 October, at the 2008 Joint Meeting of the Geological Society of America (GSA), Soil Science Society of America (SSSA), American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), and Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies, this week in Houston, Texas, USA.
As a hurricane moves toward land, onshore winds push water in front of the storm and cause water levels to rise as the storm makes landfall. This storm surge can range from several to 30-plus feet and, along with the waves that accompany the storm, inflict the greatest damage to infrastructure, Young said.
Wetlands can dampen the effect of storm surge, the problem is that scientists don't fully understand the impact that adding wetlands might have. "In order to predict the
|Contact: Christa Stratton|
Geological Society of America