New Orleans Geological Society Memorial Foundation, 2009 Scholarship Awards
“We create our own heroes” in the wake of disasters, said Joseph Contiguglia, clinical professor of environmental health sciences, as he spoke during a seminar on disaster management sponsored by the Tulane Office of Global Health.
An article co-authored by a Tulane scientist examines the role that groundwater plays in eroding the surface of the earth — a dynamic that could have implications for New Orleans-area levees.
The March issue of Nature Geoscience features a paper co-authored by Kyle M. Straub, an assistant professor in the Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences at Tulane University, which examines how groundwater flow beneath the surface of the earth impacts the rate of erosion. The topic has local interest because it has recently been observed that significant erosion is occurring on New Orleans area levees primarily caused by seepage driven flow.
With a community-based research grant,Tulane faculty member Sadredin “Dean” Moosavi will expand his efforts assessing beach erosion on Grand Isle, La., with students, residents and Grand Isle State Park officials.
For Mark Fox, a graduate student in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Tulane, the impact of severe storms on wetland diversity must be studied at the microscopic level. And, amazingly, he can study this diversity within the city limits of New Orleans, at Bayou Sauvage, the nation’s largest urban wildlife refuge.
Calling New Orleans “the canary in the global warming coal mine,” two Tulane professors say the Crescent City must embrace unconventional thinking in order to recover in a sustainable way from Hurricane Katrina while withstanding a continual threat from rising sea levels, diminishing wetlands and future storms. They stress that the No. 1 priority for Louisiana should be to combat global warming and accelerated sea-level rise.
The way Nancye Dawers views things, the creation of the rich soil of the Mississippi River delta happened almost yesterday.
Everyone agrees that Louisiana is sinking. A complicated web of factors contribute to the land’s subsidence: sea-level rise related to global warming, ground compaction related to extraction of oil and the draining of swamps for urban development, dredging of oil-and-gas production canals in the wetlands, and saltwater intrusion killing freshwater marsh grass.
Students measuring the loss of sand on the barrier island of Grand Isle, La., are seeing coastal erosion happen before their eyes. Dean Moosavi takes students in his physical geology course to the spit of land on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico where they are observing rapid land loss in southern Louisiana.
By day a mild-mannered micropaleontologist with an interest in sea levels and ancient sediment, in his free time Barry Kohl acts as a “catalyst” to bring nongovernmental organizations, industry and state agencies together in the fight to remove mercury from the environment.
“There is nothing insignificant in the world. It all depends on the point of view,” said German philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. This summer, a group of six Tulane students experienced what a change in perspective might do for them during a 7-day raft trip through the natural wonder of the Grand Canyon.
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