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Open AccessArticle

Mitigating the Effects of Sea-Level Rise on Estuaries of the Mississippi Delta Plain Using River Diversions

1
Planning & Research Division, Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, 150 Terrace Avenue, Baton Rouge, LA 70802, USA
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Department of River-Coastal Science and Engineering, Tulane University, 627 Lindy Boggs Center, 6823 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, LA 70118, USA
3
Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Sciences, University of New Orleans, 2000 Lakeshore Drive, New Orleans, LA 70148, USA
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National Wildlife Federation, 3801 Canal Street, Suite 32, New Orleans, LA 70119, USA
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Environmental Defense Fund, 1875 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20009, USA
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The Water Institute of the Gulf, 1110 River Road S., Suite 200, Baton Rouge, LA 70802, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(10), 2028; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11102028
Received: 7 August 2019 / Revised: 17 September 2019 / Accepted: 23 September 2019 / Published: 28 September 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Relative Sea-Level Changes and their Impact on Coastal Zones)
Using the Mississippi River as a tool for restoration has been a key element of restoration planning in Louisiana for decades. The results of allowing river water and sediment back into the coastal system are manifested in a number of places in present day Louisiana, with additional plans for large scale sediment and water diversions from the Mississippi River. Many previous numerical modeling studies have focused on sediment delivery to Louisiana estuaries. This study examines the effects of river diversions on salinity gradients in receiving estuarine basins. The Integrated Compartment Model, a planning-level model that simulates multi-decadal change in estuarine hydrodynamics and wetland systems under assumed sea-level rise scenarios, was used to assess the estuarine salinity gradient under potential management regimes. The simulations for current conditions are compared to a future 50-year simulation with additional diversions, as well as cases with a variety of diversion options. This modeling analysis shows that without additional action, 50-years of sea-level rise could result in substantial increases in salinity throughout the Mississippi Delta Plain estuaries. This can be largely offset with additional large river diversions which can maintain variable salinity gradients throughout the estuary basins. View Full-Text
Keywords: Mississippi River Delta; Louisiana; salinity; sediment; wetland loss; estuary; diversion; sea-level rise; environmental planning; coastal restoration Mississippi River Delta; Louisiana; salinity; sediment; wetland loss; estuary; diversion; sea-level rise; environmental planning; coastal restoration
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White, E.D.; Meselhe, E.; Reed, D.; Renfro, A.; Snider, N.P.; Wang, Y. Mitigating the Effects of Sea-Level Rise on Estuaries of the Mississippi Delta Plain Using River Diversions. Water 2019, 11, 2028.

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