Tuesday, February 2, 2016

UNO Professor Gets Grant to Study Marsh Resilience Amid Sea Level Rise

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A University of New Orleans professor will use a two-year $88,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Federation to examine the resilience of marshes. Ioannis Georgiou, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, and his collaborators are studying how marshes respond to climate change and their future sustainability in light of continued sea level rise.

Georgiou and fellow scientists from Boston University and the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences spent 10 days on a field expedition in Plum Island Sound, an estuary in northeastern Massachusetts. The researchers collected information on currents, tides and sediment concentrations. According to Georgiou, marshes need at least some mineral sediment to effectively produce organic sediment to help keep pace with rising sea levels.

“Quantifying the sediment in the system and understanding the processes contributing to sediment deposition are key, and could determine the fate of marshes in coastal systems worldwide,” said Georgiou, the director of the Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Sciences at UNO.

Georgiou’s research group will use the data collected in Plum Island Sound to set up hydrodynamic and sediment transport models that will be used to simulate the future of these systems in the next 200 years.

The research is funded through the Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant Program, which supports projects that reduce communities’ vulnerability to the growing risks of coastal storms, sea level rise, flooding, erosion and associated threats through strengthening natural ecosystems that also benefit fish and wildlife.

Founded in 2001, UNO’s Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Sciences has established itself as a leader in high-quality research related to the Mississippi River Delta region and similar systems around the world.