Coastal Studies Institute at LSU Receives NSF Coastal SEES Award

09/04/2014 12:00 AM

BATON ROUGE –LSU Oceanography and Coastal Sciences Professor Robert Twilley, a fellow in the Coastal Studies Institute, is the lead investigator of a joint project focusing on the sustainability of deltaic landscapes. The project, “DELTA SEES: Sustainability of Deltaic Coastlines – The Trillion Dollar Problem,” has been named a recipient of the National Science Foundation’s, or NSF, 2014 Coastal SEES award.

DELTA SEES will explore the co-evolution of deltaic landscapes and human system response by concentrating on changes in coastal flood risks due to human manipulations of sediment delivery. The goal is to produce guidelines determining how much sediment supply may resolve the challenges of relative sea level rise in deltaic coasts around the world.

The research – focusing on three experimental coastal basins in the central Mississippi River Deltaic Plain – will utilize field studies to identify how humans understand the impacts of wetland loss and increased flooding risks and will link to environmental studies of how sediment supply builds land. Computer simulations will then be used to explore the historical and future outcomes of river management strategies and flood risks in deltaic landscapes.  

“Deltas around the world are sites of tremendous environmental, economic and cultural value, such as Mississippi River Delta, and also some of the most vulnerable regions to impacts of sea level rise. One of the most important adaptations is the management of sediment supply from rivers that can contribute to building land that compensates for effects of sinking,” said Twilley. “Our project, DELTA SEES, will investigate the role of sediment management and reductions to coastal flooding from storm surge events as a way to design how people can adapt to such vulnerable coastal landscapes.”

Other universities involved in the project include the University of Indiana and the University of Central Florida.

NSF’s Coastal SEES program focuses on the sustainability of coastal systems. The program seeks to advance understanding of fundamental, interconnected processes in coastal systems, improve capabilities for predicting future coastal system states and impacts and identify pathways for research to be translated to policy and management domains, enhancing coastal resiliency.

The Coastal SEES award identifies projects expected to lead generalizable theoretical advances in natural sciences and engineering, while integrating key aspects of human processes required to address coastal sustainability.

The LSU Coastal Studies Institute, or CSI, is an interdisciplinary organization established to foster collaborative coastal science and engineering research in coastal settings. With more than 20 leading faculty and more students spanning five departments in five colleges and schools at LSU, CSI is a centerpiece of LSU's Commitment to the Coast. In joint leadership with CSI are the School of Coast & Environment, the College of Engineering and the College of Science.

The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950. With an annual budget of $7.2 billion (FY 2014), NSF is the funding source for approximately 24 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America's colleges and universities. In many fields such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences, NSF is the major source of federal backing. For more information about the National Science Foundation, visit   



NSF awards $15 million in second set of coastal sustainability grants



Tara  Kistler 
LSU Media Relations

Posted on Thursday, September 4, 2014