LSU’s College of the Coast & Environment (CC&E) offers education and generates research for the effective planning and adaptive management of the coast and environment. In particular, the College helps the maritime industry make informed decisions about operating in ocean conditions, sustainable development, health and safety, and more.
In addition to monitoring the atmospheric climate, our team monitors Gulf of Mexico water conditions. Because safety is a paramount concern to companies operating in the Gulf and open seas, CC&E faculty and researcher staff observe the ocean’s circulation and fate, monitor the Loop Current and eddies for unpredictable changes and model fine-scale turbulence. CC&E’s team uses real-time field measurements to monitor current conditions, forecast near-term conditions, and predict long-term implications of the changing environment.
CC&E has two laboratories that monitor ocean conditions. The Earth Scan Lab, or ESL, uses real-time remote sensing from satellites to receive and then process images of the Gulf of Mexico’s unpredictable Loop Current and eddies. ESL receives atmospheric and infrared imagery of the Atlantic basin every thirty minutes from NOAA's GOES satellite. WAVCIS deploys acoustic equipment on the water and under the water to provide continuous real time coastal ocean met-ocean data from observations and modeling to serve research, industry, coastal management, education, and for preparation and coping with extreme weather and events, as well as long-term climatological variations.
CC&E’s modeling group uses numeric, high-performance computing to provide scenarios and accurate predictions about continental shelf, coastal and estuarine circulation and the impact of weather and environmental changes. CC&E climate change experts help to detect long-term changes in weather and relative sea level rise on the Gulf and its coastal areas. Our team can help with advance warnings about storms and provide scenarios about their impact. This capability is especially important because hurricanes and major storms are predicted to increase in frequency and intensity due to warming waters caused by climate change.
Keeping our ecosystem health is of utmost importance. CC&E researchers study pollutants and their impacts on our waterways, sediment deposits and re-suspension, and fine-scale water sediment interactions to determine marsh resilience and restoration.
Our biological oceanography team studies native and invasive animals, such as those in ballast water loaded and unloaded at ports of call, to better understand the ecology of these species so that they can be controlled and/or managed if released. And, our researchers study ways to reduce the risk of such releases of nonindigenous aquatic organisms into the marine environment.
CC&E’s oceanographers also study red tides, or harmful algae blooms, that can shut down a beach or attach to the navigation equipment in ships and the ships themselves. Our research helps to better manage and control native and invasive species of algae. Harmful algae causes millions of dollars in lost revenue to communities, hotels, restaurants, and water based tourism attractions like fishing, swimming, and boating. In addition, toxins, such as red tide, can contaminate seafood.
Our toxicology team provides knowledge of chemical, physical, and environmental hazards, including pollutants in air, dust, sediment, soil and water, and natural toxins in the environment. They study the effects of agents as toxicants from pollutants, insecticides, pesticides, and fertilizers that can affect an organism and its group by decreasing its species diversity and size. Such changes in population dynamics affect the ecosystem by reducing its productivity and stability.
Our geological oceanographers study the changes in the coast line including supply and movement of sediment that can impact navigation issues, such as channel depth, and geochemical constituents. Our physical oceanographers study waves, sea level, salinity, movement of ocean currents by tide and wind, and the water itself.
When accidental releases occur, CC&E has a team of experts who track releases, monitor oil containments, analyze chemicals to determine toxicity and degradation, recommend avenues for remediation and restoration, and determine ecological effects.
In summary, CC&E has the expertise to provide information on short- and long-term impacts of climate and maritime issues. Our scientists use a balanced approach in studying the ecosystem in a comprehensive manner. Our graduates understand the balance between natural and built environments.