Eugene Turner, a coastal ecologist at LSU, notes that the Mississippi is often loaded with nutrients washed from farm fields farther upstream. As the new canal dumps those nutrients into the bay, he fears they could cause marsh plants to grow too fast to develop root systems hefty enough to hold sediment in place, leading to marsh erosion. “My concern is [the additional nutrients] will overwhelm the benefits,” he says. Tracy Quirk, a wetland plant ecologist at LSU, has been testing that idea. She has been adding different amounts of nutrients and sediments to more than 130 wetland plots in Barataria Bay, each 1 square meter in size. Two years of observations suggest even low levels of added nutrients catalyze root growth, she says. But, so far, she isn't seeing signs that those roots are weaker.
Mark Benfield, a professor at Louisiana State University's department of oceanography and coastal sciences, studies plastic pollution in Louisiana and is now investigating face mask pollution. He said most waste created on land ultimately makes its way into a body of water. Benfield, who developed a methodological survey with colleagues to collect data about PPE litter around the world, said micro plastics are especially dangerous because they’re small enough to pass through filters and end up in our drinking water, or get absorbed into the bodies of animals that humans eat, like fish. Marine animals can become tangled in disposable face masks or mistake them for food, Benfield added.
Mississippi River diversions and the construction of tidal marshes are key components of the Louisiana Coastal Master Plan, but there is uncertainty about exactly how the management decision to divert water out of the river and into nearby marshes will affect the ecology and functionality of those marshes. With support from the NOAA RESTORE Science Program, Dr. Michael Polito, from the LSU College of the Coast & Environment, and his team aim to address some of the outstanding questions through characterization of the aquatic food webs of natural and created marshes.
Louisiana is ground zero for climate change. Its coast is disappearing at a rate of a football field every hour and a half and hurricanes are growing more fierce, forcing residents to move north to higher ground. Rainfall is also increasing, creating floods so severe that, in 2017, some reporters covered New Orleans by canoe. But experts, including Robert Twilley, say it doesn’t have to be this way. Twilley is executive director of the Sea Grant College Program based at Louisiana State University. The state, he said, could position itself to lead the nation in infrastructure investment because it’s facing the effects of climate change firsthand.
LSU researchers recently published findings confirming that blight, a constant subject of discussion among East Baton Rouge Parish leadership, leads to an increased abundance of disease-carrying mosquitoes.
When LSU researchers recently set out to gather data on southern flounder, they ran into a problem: they could hardly find any in Louisiana.
Mark Benfield is a professor in the Department of Oceanography at Louisiana State University. He’s been tracking PPE litter around the country since the pandemic began. Benfield says masks or gloves washing into sewers is a major concern. They’ll end up in our waterways where the plastic can break down and eventually be ingested by small aquatic animals. “If a human being eats a fish that’s consumed lots of smaller animals, then those pollutants can get into our bodies,” Benfield says.
Louisiana salt marshes provide nearly 1.2 billion pounds of seafood each year, and they remain a popular destination for sport fishing. The distribution and abundance of fish are typically synchronized with freshwater inflow patterns to the marshes. However, it remains unclear whether human activities and natural processes may affect those patterns — and the predictability of fishing forecasts. This project seeks to understand the effects of freshwater inputs into salt marsh ecosystems; and how those activities affect behaviors and livelihoods of the recreational fishing industry. To date, studies focusing on recreational fishing in salt marshes have only considered the effects of human activities on salt marshes. By contrast, this project will assess how human activities and natural processes interact, by combining empirical knowledge, fish distribution and abundance data, and environmental parameters. Model outputs from this project will help predict how ecological and socio-economic changes affect livelihoods of recreational fishing communities.
Few places on Earth are as rich in biodiversity and removed from human influence as the world's largest rainforest -- the Amazon. Scientists at Louisiana State University (LSU) have been conducting research within the pristine rainforest for decades. However, they began to notice that some of the animals, specifically birds that forage on and near the forest floor, had become very difficult to find.
A decade of research since the Deepwater Horizon disaster has revealed how sunlight—its importance long understated in oil spill science—substantially alters petroleum floating at the sea surface.
With hurricane season in full swing, the Gulf Coast is at a special risk for what could be a record-breaking number of storms. With damages by hurricanes Laura and Sally and tropical storms Wilfred and Beta, many people are wondering why the gulf coast is experiencing a ground zero hurricane season.
On a walk around his neighborhood, LSU professor Mark Benfield began spotting disposable masks, gloves and wipes littered on the street at an alarming rate. He decided to begin a research initiative on personal protective equipment waste that has now spread around the world.
Early on the morning of April 21, 2010, Samantha “Mandy” Joye awoke to an ominous email. A colleague of hers was out on the Gulf of Mexico on board the R/V Pelican, one of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium’s research ships. In the distance, she could see smoke billowing into the sky. There seemed to be more ships on the water than usual, too. With limited internet access on the ship, she asked Joye to figure out what was going on.
Johnson Bayou Fire Chief Rony Doucett remembers driving down Louisiana Highway 82 in the 1970s. Back then, he estimates, there was about a quarter-mile stretch of beach between the highway and the water.
Jun-Hong Liang, associate professor in the Louisiana State University Department of Oceanography & Coastal Sciences, or DOCS, has received a five-year National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development, or NSF CAREER, award.
Sacred Heart students enrolled in Environmental Science and Digital Media collaborated to on a project to educate their peers and larger community on the origin of microplastics and their impact in Louisiana. Combining their primary research, insight from Dr. Mark Benfield from the Department of Oceanography & Coastal Sciences at LSU and their own storytelling and production skills, students created a documentary and entered it in an environmental film competition hosted by GreenShorts Louisiana.
Has the pandemic increased awareness of hunting and angling or is it just a matter of people suddenly finding time to do what they remember enjoying years ago? Is COVID-19 actually responsible for the uptick in sales or is something else at play? These are questions researchers at Louisiana State University and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission are looking to answer.
During this time masks and other personal protective equipment are needed, however many have been littering personal protective equipment (PPE) around the world including Baton Rouge. “As times progressed and we’ve seen masks become more common, they are becoming a more common item on the street,” says LSU professor Mark Benfield.
LSU College of the Coast & Environment professor Mark Benfield explains his research on pandemic-related plastic pollution
The “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico will be larger than usual this summer, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted on Wednesday. A separate forecast from two oceanographers from Louisiana State University, R. Eugene Turner and Nancy N. Rabalais, suggested a higher estimate for this year’s zone: 7,769 miles, or roughly the size of New Hampshire. That team’s work is incorporated into NOAA’s estimate.
LSU professors immediately leapt at the challenge to understand what was going to happen to the delicate coastal salt marshes in the path of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Now, at the 10‐year anniversary of the wellhead blowout, the accumulated research on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill gives us a glimpse into its effects on the coastline and the organisms that live there. From the ground up, we're going to examine how the spill impacted the salt marsh soil, microbes, and plants that have been recovering for the past decade.
How will businesses reopen when the COVID-19 shutdown is lifted?
A few weeks ago, LSU College of the Coast & Environment scientist Mark Benfield started noticing a proliferation of personal protective equipment, or PPE, on his frequent walks around his Baton Rouge neighborhood. So Benfield, an expert on plastic pollution in rivers and oceans, decided to launch a research project to document this new trend.
A closer look at how the global crisis is influencing the environment reveals some surprising dynamics.
Sea level rise and flooding are making fire ants bigger and meaner, and their bite a whole lot worse.
Lightning strikes have left much of Australia's eastern coast in a fiery blaze dated as far back as September of last year. In the months following, the country has faced the worst loss of land and animals its seen in recent decades.
Gulf Research Program Awards $2 Million to Seven Projects to Improve Understanding and Prediction of the Gulf of Mexico Loop Current System
WASHINGTON — The Gulf Research Program (GRP) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine today announced $2 million in grant awards for seven new projects through its Understanding Gulf Ocean Systems (UGOS) Grants 2 competition. The UGOS grants support projects focused on new theories, technologies, and methodologies to improve understanding and prediction of the Loop Current System (LCS) of the Gulf of Mexico.
(Inside Science) -- Viruses control their hosts like puppets -- and in the process, they may play important roles in Earth’s climate.
Populations of a picky species of Antarctic penguin have plummeted as a less-fussy species has prospered, showing that even closely related species respond differently to the effects of climate change.
New research reveals how penguins have dealt with more than a century of human impacts in Antarctica and why some species are winners or losers in this rapidly changing ecosystem.
Paul Miller, assistant professor and coastal meteorologist in the Department of Oceanography & Coastal Sciences, is using popular culture as an entry point by which his students can understand complex environmental interactions in a fun and meaningful way. In this fall's "Modelling the Marine Atmosphere"course, he taught students how to run a meteorological modelling experiment based on the movie, "Frozen."
Most people love to drink beer while enjoying the beach or while relaxing on a boat. It is one of the pleasures of life that you can enjoy year-round. The downside of this is cracking open a cold one is that the plastic packaging rings that are used to hold your beers together can harm marine life and wildlife and it can choke seabirds.
As an atmospheric scientist, I find that the public is often confused about concepts that seem very natural to me. Let’s face it, most people are not atmospheric scientists. I certainly cannot recite the key elements of a nuclear reactor because it is not what I do. It is understandable that it may be counterintuitive to some people that
For years, LSU sororities and fraternities have teamed up to create boards of painted pictures made out of rolled tissue paper.
Summer has begun to set in the northern hemisphere and is just beginning to peek through to the southern one. As our population continues to boom and our summers get hotter, more people than ever before are heading to the ocean to cool down. And what lives in the ocean? Sharks.
DALLAS – (Sept. 26, 2019) Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Gulf of Mexico Division announced the Louisiana State University (LSU) College of the Coast & Environment as a 2nd Place Gulf Guardian winner for its EnvironMentors program to encourage interest in environmental stewardship and science careers among high school participants.
PEOPLE WHO ARE fascinated by nature and passionate about conservation may want to consider studying environmental science.
In the past few weeks, many of the politic-savvy professors that we've interviewed have pointed out climate change and environmental regulation as being hot-button topics in today’s political climate.
Hurricanes have great impact on land but they can be equally as destructive to aquatic environments, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The federal government's effort to avoid a flood disaster in New Orleans had catastrophic consequences of its own, causing massive fish kills and habitat destruction along the Gulf Coast, according to the governors of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
A data-gathering sensor attached to the American Queen steamboat will give scientists and cities a better understanding of water quality along the entire length of the Mississippi River, officials said Monday.
The National Science Foundation announced last week that it would pay for a $106 million boat to help scientists explore some of the critical issues affecting the Gulf, including climate change, hurricanes, fisheries' health and oil pollution. At 199 feet long, it would be the largest vessel devoted to scientific research in the Gulf region.
For the Grand Isle Tarpon Club, reeling in that next big fish is about a lot more than simply baiting a line and casting it into the Gulf of Mexico. The group of about 75 hardcore local anglers are teaming up with LSU and Mississippi State to study the migratory patterns of their namesake fish through a tag-and-release program that uses satellite tracking to see where the tarpon are coming from and going. It’s a new merger with science and the traditional fishing tactics that the group hopes will keep the sport going through the next generation. “We want to keep the tradition going. This is great for Grand Isle,” said club member Jeff DeBlieux, of Houma. “But we also want to preserve the fishery for our kids and everyone else and learn as much as we can about the tarpon.”
24 finalists advance in National Geographic and Sky Ocean Ventures’ Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge
National Geographic and Sky Ocean Ventures launched the challenge in February 2019, which focuses on three strategic ways to address the growing issue of plastic pollution: identifying opportunities for industries to address plastic waste throughout supply chains, communicating the breadth of the issue through data visualization, and designing alternatives to single-use plastics.
Record-breaking spring rains and historic flooding in the Midwest were poised to create one of the biggest dead zones on record in the Gulf of Mexico this summer, researchers had estimated. Instead, Hurricane Barry mixed up the waters, making the dead zone smaller than expected, scientists said during a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration press conference on Thursday.
Fresh water from the Midwest floods has poured through the Bonnet Carre Spillway, 30 miles west of New Orleans, into southeast Louisiana and Mississippi this year. The spillway is a relief valve used to prevent local flooding.
From a puddle in the parking lot to the water in the area’s main drinking-water source, Bayou Lafourche, local scientists say microplastics are everywhere -- and they’re not leaving any time soon.
Divers monitoring coral reefs off St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands in January noticed something alarming: Big white lesions were eating into the colorful tissues of hundreds of stony corals. Some corals were dead by the next day — only their stark white skeletons remained. Others languished for up to two weeks. Within four months, more than half of the reef suffered the same demise.
Pollutants from booming farms combined with record wet weather are contaminating the nation's mightiest waterway.
The Mississippi River is trying to change course into the its historic Atchafalaya Basin channel according to Dr. Jun Xu, a world-renowned hydrologist and Professor of Hydrology at Louisiana State University’s School of Renewable Natural Resource, in a recently released video on Bigger Pie Forum. A course correction Xu says is not a matter of “if” but “when”, placing Southern Louisiana on the verge of one of the worlds most detrimental natural disasters in history.
Robert Twilley, Executive Director of the Louisiana Sea Grant, recently received $773,659 from NASA for a five-year program called Delta-X, working with Principal Investigator Marc Simard of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California:
Researchers found that the rate of shark attacks along the Eastern seaboard and Southern Australia, have doubled in the last 20 years
Restore the Mississippi River Delta, a coalition of groups looking to slow that trend, recently took First Alert Storm Team’s Dr. Steve Caparotta up for a bird’s eye view of the fight to save our coast. Flying over the Mississippi River Delta, it can be tough to distinguish where the coast ends and the Gulf of Mexico begins. Our coast was built and shaped over the course of thousands of years, largely by natural meanders in the Mississippi River and its periodic floods that would deposit land-building sediment, but man changed that in the 20th century.
Howe, Katie Davis, McKaila Darden and Jack Green were selected through an internal LSU competition and will compete with students from universities across the country for the chance to be named a 2019 Udall Scholar. In 2019, the Udall Foundation anticipates awarding 50 scholarships of up to $7,000 each.
Researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) says a coral disease has spread from the southern Florida to the U.S. Virgin Islands. WHOI says a coral disease outbreak that wiped out nearly 80-percent of stony corals between Florida’s Key Biscayne and Key West during the past two years appears to have spread to the U.S.
To help communities make informed flood prevention strategy decisions and hopefully prevent disasters like the flooding currently ravaging much of the Upper Mississippi River valley, University of Iowa and Louisiana State University experts are collaborating on a new project. Those two schools, along with the Louisiana Sea Grant College Program and The Water Institute of the Gulf have formed the Coastal-Hydrologic Consortium.
More and more, the world has come to understand that the way in which human beings interact with their physical environment impacts everything from public safety to traffic to housing prices. Making that relationship function better through cutting edge strategies, planning and research is what drives Camille Manning-Broome, president and CEO of the Center for Planning Excellence in Baton Rouge.
Today’s Video of the Day from the National Science Foundation describes a recent study on Adélie penguins led by scientists at Louisiana State University (LSU).
It’s that time of year again, when LSU seniors smile for the camera and walk across the stage. But when celebrations begin, thoughts of the environment fade. New trends of extravagant graduation pictures featuring glitter and confetti has LSU researcher Matthew Kupchik concerned about the campus’s environment.
Three LSU students or recent graduates are among the recipients of the 2019 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, or GRFP, while 10 more students received honorable mentions.
Nine years ago tomorrow—April 20, 2010—crude oil began leaking from the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig into the Gulf of Mexico in what turned out to be the largest marine oil spill in history. A long-term study suggests the oil is still affecting the salt marshes of the Gulf Coast, and reveals the key role that marsh grasses play in the overall recovery of these important coastal wetlands.
Nine years ago tomorrow -- April 20, 2010 -- crude oil began leaking from the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig into the Gulf of Mexico in what turned out to be the largest marine oil spill in history. A long-term study suggests the oil is still affecting the salt marshes of the Gulf Coast, and reveals the key role that marsh grasses play in the overall recovery of these important coastal wetlands.
The Environmental Protection Agency spread false information about toxic chemicals over the course of five years, the agency's Office of the Inspector General announced this week. In a public letter, the OIG "decided to issue an immediate management alert informing the agency of our discovery that its (Toxic Release Inventory) data … are inaccurate," the letter states.
LSU is fierce for the future. We demonstrate that ferocity through our commitment to the next generation. You may know that we welcomed a record-breaking incoming class in terms of size, diversity, and academic preparedness this fall.
The Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana is proud to announce the recipients of the 2019 Coastal Stewardship Awards. This year CRCL will honor coastal stewards who have demonstrated passionate commitment to Louisiana's coast and have made immense contributions to the restoration and conservation of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands.
Six LSU faculty members who are leaders in their fields received the Rainmaker Award for Research and Creative Activity from the LSU Office of Research & Economic Development, or ORED, this week. Rainmakers are faculty members who balance their teaching and research responsibilities while extending the impact of their work to the world beyond academia.
Sharks have developed quite a notorious reputation in the eyes of the public for being dangerous predators that attack humans, even if unprovoked. LSU Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences Assistant Professor Stephen Midway hopes to change this view through his new study by showing that shark attack rates are low and highly variable.
Ten Minutes with Michael Polito, Assistant Professor in the LSU Department of Oceanography & Coastal Sciences and 2018 Rainmaker
“I'm an ecologist and that basically means I'm someone who studies the interactions that organisms have with each other and with their environment. And the interaction I focus on the most is diets—who eats who. That's everything from understanding a species—how they find their food and what types of food they eat—but also looking across multiple species to understand how energy gets from the bottom of a food web all the way to the top.
Shark attacks have increased around the globe over the past 55 years, but that doesn't mean you need to cancel your beach vacation, according to a new study. The actual attack rate is low, and the risk varies, depending on your location. Researchers used data gathered from 1960 to 2015 from the Florida Museum of Natural History's International Shark Attack File for a worldwide statistical analysis of shark attacks.
Researchers at Louisiana State University have conducted the first statistical analysis of shark attacks worldwide using data collected over a 55-year period from 1960 to 2015. The experts found that even though the number of shark attacks has increased over time, the risk of shark attacks remains low.
Three Ogden Honors College students have been selected as LSU’s nominees for the nationally competitive Truman Scholarship, awarded by the Harry S. Truman Foundation.
Scientists will be scanning for colorful beads and other Mardi Gras throws that make their way into the Mississippi River after this year's Carnival season. On the whole, beads are "a drop in the bucket" of plastic pollution, but they are a vivid reminder of the litter that can harm the ecosystem, said Mark Benfield, a professor with the LSU Department of Oceanography & Coastal Sciences.
BATON ROUGE – The Gulf of Mexico University Research Collaborative, or GOMURC, recognized Christopher D’Elia for his lifetime of dedication and achievement in support of a healthy and sustainable Gulf of Mexico environment and economy on Feb. 7.
LSU College of the Coast and Environment Dean Chris D’Elia was named a sustaining fellow by the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO).
It was a squabble over $2.9 million in property-tax breaks — small change for Exxon Mobil, a company that measures its earnings by the billions. But when the East Baton Rouge Parish school board rejected the energy giant’s rather routine request last month, the “no” vote went off like a bomb in a state where obeisance to the oil, gas and chemical industries is the norm.
Scientists have shown that wetlands provide many valuable services, from buffering coasts against floods to filtering water and storing carbon. These five articles from our archive highlight wetlands’ diversity and the potential payoffs from conserving and restoring them.
Louisiana, with a major Citgo refinery in Lake Charles and other refiners' reliance on Venezuelan oil, is “disproportionately exposed” to sanctions imposed Monday.
The Gulf of Mexico is ranked as Earth’s tenth largest body of water, and recently, Jack E. Davis explored related themes contained his new work with the Baton Rouge community. On January 11, Davis spoke at the LSU College of Coast and Environment in the Dalton Wood Auditorium. Here, he discussed the book that received a Pulitzer Prize in 2018, called The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea.
A small brewer in Florida has created a biodegradable 6-pack that will feed sea turtles instead of killing them. Every year, hundreds of thousands of marine animals are killed due to plastic waste. Plastic bottles, containers, and the ubiquitous 6-pack rings are the biggest killers, with animals either ingesting or becoming trapped in plastic debris.
Mangrove canopy heights vary around the world in response to rain, storms and human activities, suggests a global analysis of mangrove canopy height. How tall the trees are matters for estimating global mangrove carbon storage.
Human actions have boosted carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere to levels higher than any measured over the last 160,000 years. Rising concern over the risk of severe impacts from climate change is spurring research into ways in which ecosystems may mitigate global warming by storing excess carbon in plants and soil.
Mangrove wetlands are among the most productive and carbon-dense ecosystems in the world. Their structural attributes vary considerably across spatial scales, yielding large uncertainties in regional and global estimates of carbon stocks.
LSU announced its December honors lists. Undergraduate students enrolled in at least 15 credit hours who earned GPAs of 4.0 or higher during the semester are listed on the President’s Honor Roll. Undergraduate students who earned GPAs of 3.5 to 3.99 in at least 15 credit hours are listed on the Dean’s List.
Louisiana State University wetlands scientist Eugene Turner believes he has a simple solution for a key cause of coastal wetland loss in Louisiana: rake the dirt piled on the banks of canals leading to plugged and abandoned oil and gas wells back into the canals and allow nature to restore their wetlands.
SATELLITES WATCH MANY things as they orbit the Earth: hurricanes brewing in the Caribbean, tropical forests burning in the Amazon, even North Korean soldiers building missile launchers. But some researchers have found a new way to use satellites to figure out what penguins eat by capturing images of the animal’s poop deposits across Antarctica.
LSU Boyd Professor of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences R. Eugene Turner has determined a cost-effective way to prevent coastal erosion and protect Louisiana's wetlands. Along with LSU alumna and now University of Central Florida Postdoctoral Fellow Giovanna McClenachan, Turner proposes a simple and inexpensive way to fill in canals that were once used for oil and gas mining. Their research was published recently in the journal PLOS ONE.
State officials have embarked on a coast-wide effort to partner with the commercial and recreational fishing industry to find ways to make fishing more sustainable in the future, even as some state projects aimed at restoring coastal wetlands and land threaten fisheries and fishers.
This year, scientists announced an incredible discovery by looking at poop stains in satellite images — 1.5 million Adélie penguins were living and thriving on a little patch in Antarctica surrounded by treacherous sea ice called the Danger Islands.
Scientists are digging up Adélie penguin guano to study millennia of Antarctica’s history.
To some, plunging into the darkest depths of a vast and mysterious ocean would be a Lovecraftian nightmare. But Mark Benfield, Oceanography and Coastal Sciences Professor in LSU’s College of the Coast & Environment, or CC&E, welcomes the chance for new aquatic discoveries.
Louisiana Sea Grant director Robert Twilley addressed the Press Club of Baton Rouge Monday in celebration of the organization's 50th anniversary. We're told Louisiana Sea Grant is responsible for research and extension concerning the state's coastal and marine resources.
In 2019, the Gulf Coast region will build upon its 2018 economic gains in the energy sector, according to the 2019 Gulf Coast Energy Outlook, although those gains will likely be slower due to concerns about economic growth and geopolitical tensions. It’s all part of the Gulf Coast—specifically Louisiana and Texas—becoming a more integrated part of the overall world market, says LSU Center for Energy Studies Executive Director David Dismukes, who co-authored the report.
Trillions of dollars' worth of U.S. coastal development and military installations are at risk from powerful storms and sea level rise, a panel of experts warned at a congressional briefing today. They said that continued investments into accurate and timely weather forecasts and long-term understanding of the Earth system are vital for saving lives and protecting property in densely populated coastal regions, both in the United States and overseas.
LSU researchers are downsizing the employment growth projections for Louisiana’s oil and gas production sector for the coming years, but energy companies are expected to continue adding jobs and spending money as part of an ongoing Gulf Coast energy boom.