LSU professor predicts barrier island retreat rate will increase by 50% over next century

LSU professor predicts barrier island retreat rate will increase by 50% over next century
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BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – A professor with Louisiana State University’s (LSU) Department of Oceanography & Coastal Sciences and Center for Computation and Technology is now saying that the retreat rate of certain coastal barrier islands will accelerate by 50% over the next 100 years.

The LSU-based researcher behind the prediction is Dr. Giulio Mariotti, his new findings were published in Nature Geoscience during the first week of July.

LSU says Mariotti created a computer model that details the relationship between sea-level rise and barrier island retreat, which sheds light on a surprising lag between increased sea levels and a decrease in barrier island size.

His findings challenge the popular theory that barrier islands instantly respond to sea-level rise. 

LSU quotes Mariotti as saying, “One reason previous models didn’t see the lag was because they assumed the geometry of the whole coastal tract – from the lower continental shelf to the upland boundary, including subaerial barriers, inlets and tidal channels ­- was frozen. However, the geometry can change and that’s what’s enabling this lag effect.”

With the assistance of Mariotti’s model, the prediction of a 50% increase in barrier island retreat rate over the next 100 years was made, as was the prediction that if the rate of sea-level rise increases, barrier island retreat may increase even more.

Mariotti’s work is of keen interest as it touches on an area of concern related to U.S. coastlines. The barrier islands he analyzes help to protect coastlines from storms, storm surge, waves and flooding. They become buffers between the ocean and beachfront property.

But the more sea levels rise, the more barrier islands move closer toward the shore, which lessens their ability to act as a source of protection from storms and high waters.

Click here to read LSU’s full article about Dr. Mariotti’s findings.


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