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Northern Gulf of Mexico (NGOM) Ecosystem Change and Hazard Susceptibility

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Subtask: Assessment of the Past, Present and Future Coastal Hazard Sustainability and Vulnerability of Southeast Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama

Subtask Leader: Ioannis Georgiou - Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Sciences (PIES), University of New Orleans, Louisiana


Coastal hazard vulnerability as a result of increasing storm activity and accelerating relative sea-level rise due to climate change is of primary importance in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Vast coastal areas in southeast Louisiana are below sea level, surrounded by wetlands that are rapidly deteriorating. Coastal land loss, shifts in habitat, and shoreline change processes have historically altered and shaped today’s coastlines. Additionally, geologic processes have altered the shape, size and composition of barrier islands in the Northern Gulf of Mexico for Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Over time, these combined changes have altered the way the coast dissipates energy during extra-tropical and tropical activity.

This raises the following research questions:

  • What is, if any, the increase of past, present and future coastal vulnerability from natural geologic changes in the coastal zone?
  • Can we identify and quantify any measurable change attributable to these specific changes?


The primary objective of this subtask is to investigate the historic increase in coastal vulnerability using a storm surge model. Historic shorelines and bathymetries will be digitized and interpolated onto computational space. Storm surge simulations using the advanced circulation model will then be performed in an effort to quantify coastal vulnerability. The final products of this effort will be an evaluation of the system change of vulnerability as a function of the evolution of the continental shelf, barrier island chains and coastlines.



Brock, J.C., Lavoie, D., and Poore, R.Z., 2009, Introduction: Northern Gulf of Mexico: Ecosystem change and susceptibility to natural hazards: Geo-Marine Letters, v. 29, no. 6, p. 343-347.

Open File Report(OFR)

Brock, J.C., Wright, C.W., Nayegandhi, A., Patterson, M., Wilson, I., Travers, L., 2007, USGS-NPS-NASA Topography - Gulf Islands National Seashore Mississippi, USGS Open File Report 2007-1377 (DVD)
Brock, J.C., Wright, C.W., Nayegandhi, A., Patterson, M., Wilson, I., Travers, L., 2007, USGS-NPS-NASA Topography - Gulf Islands National Seashore Florida, USGS Open File Report 2007-1422 (DVD)

Data Series

Nayegandhi, A., Brock, J.C., Sallenger, A.H., Wright, C.W., Travers, L.J., Lebonitte, J., 2008, EAARL Coastal Topography - Northern Gulf of Mexico (Post-Ivan), USGS Data Series 384 (DVD)

Abstracts and Presentations

Brock, J.C., Lavoie, D., Barras, J.A., and Nayegandhi, A., 2008, Large scale landscape change and natural hazards in the Northern Gulf of Mexico [abstract], in Lavoie, D., and Rosen, B., eds., USGS Gulf Coast Science Conference and Florida Integrated Science Center Meeting: Proceedings with Abstracts, October 20-23, 2008, Orlando, FL: St. Petersburg, FL, U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2008-1329, p. 27.
Georgiou, I.Y., Kulp, M., Miner, M.D., Flocks, J.G., and Twichell, D.C., 2008, Preliminary assessment of transport trends in a transgressive barrier island chain using multidimensional numerical models [abstract 227-8]: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 40, no. 6, p. 314.
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