Coastal Desk

Southeast Louisiana is sinking under the waves faster than any coastal landscape in the world. With so much at stake for Louisiana and the nation, WWNO has made coastal news a priority.

Since mid-2014 our Coastal Desk reporting team has been producing frequent news reports and in-depth features covering coastal erosion and restoration; hurricane protection; offshore energy and other coastal businesses; wildlife and fisheries impacts; and coastal communities and culture.

Support for the Coastal Desk comes from the Walton Family Foundation, the Coypu Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, and local listeners.

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Laine Kaplan-Levenson / WWNO

The Bayou Bienvenue Wetland Triangle of today is what is called a “ghost swamp”. Until the 1960s, it was a full of cypress trees, part of the central wetlands system that ran from the Lower 9th Ward all the way to Lake Borgne. But destructive forces — from levee and canal construction to invasive species — turned this freshwater swamp into a saltwater marsh, killing all the cypress trees in the process. You see their dead trunks like scarecrows in the water, and don’t see much else.

Laine Kaplan-Levenson / WWNO

The Bayou Bienvenue Wetland Triangle of today is what is called a “ghost swamp.” Until the 1960s, it was a full of cypress trees, part of the central wetlands system that ran from the Lower 9th Ward all the way to Lake Borgne. But destructive forces — from levee and canal construction to invasive species — turned this freshwater swamp into a saltwater marsh, killing all the cypress trees in the process. You see their dead trunks like scarecrows in the water, and don’t see much else.

Eve Troeh / WWNO

The Bayou Bienvenue Wetland Triangle of today is what is called a “ghost swamp”. Until the 1960s, it was a full of cypress trees, part of the central wetlands system that ran from the Lower 9th Ward all the way to Lake Borgne. But destructive forces — from levee and canal construction to invasive species — turned this freshwater swamp into a saltwater marsh, killing all the cypress trees in the process. You see their dead trunks like scarecrows in the water, and don’t see much else.

Laine Kaplan-Levenson / WWNO

The Bayou Bienvenue Wetland Triangle of today is what is called a “ghost swamp”. Until the 1960s, it was a full of cypress trees, part of the central wetlands system that ran from the Lower 9th Ward all the way to Lake Borgne. But destructive forces — from levee and canal construction to invasive species — turned this freshwater swamp into a saltwater marsh, killing all the cypress trees in the process. You see their dead trunks like scarecrows in the water, and don’t see much else.

Tropical storms are migrating out of the tropics, reaching their peak intensity in higher latitudes, where larger populations are concentrated, a new NOAA-led study published in the journal Nature says.

NOAA

The Data Center released its first Coastal Index this week. WWNO's Jack Hopke sat down with Executive Director Allison Plyer and Senior Research Fellow George Hobor to learn more.

Among the lessons learned, data since 2005 show many coastal communities, like Chauvin and Dulac, are losing residents. Those choosing to stay are more likely to be poor than those who leave. That means the remaining population is more vulnerable to events like storms, with fewer resources to help them bounce back after disaster.

Eve Troeh

Louisiana Highway 1, or just LA-1, is the longest continuous road in the state, running from the northeast corner down to Grand Isle. One particular stretch of it poses a particular challenge: as coastal erosion and sea level rise continue at rapid rates in southern Louisiana, LA-1 is more consistently flooded. This leaves residents and anyone who needs to travel the road inconvenienced at best, and in peril at worst.

Jonathan Henderson of New Orleans-based Gulf Restoration Network is flying Louisiana's coast looking for oil. As usual, he's found some.

"I just noticed something out of the corner of my eye that looks like a sheen that had some form to it," he says. "We're going to go take a closer look and see if there's a rainbow sheen."

It's a target-rich environment for Henderson, because more than 54,000 wells were planted in and off this coast — part of the 300,000 wells in the state. They're connected by thousands of miles of pipelines, all vulnerable to leaks.

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