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Drought and Low Water Levels in the Mississippi River, USA

37.0N 89.1W

April 30th, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Rivers

USA – April 29th, 2013

For months along the Mississippi River here, the withering drought has caused record-breaking low water levels that have threatened to shut down traffic on the world’s largest navigable inland waterway.

The river has remained open  for shipping from Missouri to Illinois due to dredging, blasting and scraping away of rock obstructions along the riverbed, effectively lowering the bottom of the channel by two feet. Despite the success in keeping the Mississippi open, the effects of the low water can be seen up and down the river, both in reduced barge traffic and in the disarray caused by receding waters.

Mississippi River Delta and Sediments Along Louisiana Coastline, USA

March 6th, 2013 Category: Sediments

USA – March 6th, 2013

Looking at this vibrant, colorful image of sediments along the Louisiana coastline and by the Mississippi River Delta, it is perhaps too easy to forget that not so long ago the BP oil disaster dumped nearly five million barrels of oil— the equivalent of over 200 million gallons—into the Gulf of Mexico and oiled hundreds of miles of coastline in the five gulf states, with Louisiana’s coast and wildlife receiving the greatest percentage of direct ecological damage.

The disaster’s long-term effects are still unfolding. Damage done to animals and plants will have ripple effects through the food web for many years to come. Hydrocarbons from the crude oil remain in the Gulf of Mexico habitats and waters, and – we can expect based on studies of previous spills – will linger in some places for many years.

The full consequences of this event will be understood more fully over time, but it is already clear that the catastrophe further damaged ecosystems that were already compromised and collapsing, especially in the Mississippi River Delta. An oil spill of monumental proportions was the last thing the region needed.

The RESTORE Gulf Coast States Act (RESTORE Act) dedicates 80 percent of the penalties paid by BP and others responsible for the 2010 oil disaster toward gulf restoration, as recommended by the bipartisan National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. The money from these fines will go towards jump starting long-term restoration (click here for more information).

Climate Change and Low-Lying Coastal Mississippi River Delta, USA – February 17th, 2013

29.9N 90W

February 17th, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Image of the day, Rivers, Sediments

USA – January 25th, 2013

Here, sediments can be seen spilling forth from the Mississippi River in Louisiana, USA. The low lying, coastal Mississippi River Delta region is particularly vulnerable to the climate change threats of sea level rise, increased flood risk and more intense hurricanes. The area is additionally plagued by human-induced environmental degradation that has occurred over the past 200-300 years. The region has lost 1,900 square miles of land since the 1930s and is losing the wetland areas that are crucial to the region’s ecosystem function, economy and character.

Global climate change has induced an increase in global mean sea level with a 3.1 mm/year average rate of increase since 1991. Climate projections indicate a widespread increase of more intense precipitation events, with an associated increased risk of flooding. Similarly, climate scientists also predict an increase in hurricane wind speed and total volume (click here for more information).

Mississippi River Flowing Through Southern USA to Gulf of Mexico

32.4N 91.6W

November 28th, 2012 Category: Rivers

USA – November 25th, 2012

The Mississippi River is the chief river of the largest river system in North America. It rises in northern Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for 2,530 miles (4,070 km) to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico (bottom). The river either borders or cuts through ten states. Here, it can be seen in Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Formed from thick layers of this river’s silt deposits, the Mississippi River Valley is one of the most fertile agricultural regions of the country,

New Orleans and Sediments from Mississippi River, USA

29.9N 90W

April 15th, 2012 Category: Lakes, Rivers

USA - April 13th, 2012

The city of New Orleans can be observed as a greyish tan area on the east and west banks of the Mississippi River and south of Lake Pontchartrain, near the center of this image. The city is located in the Mississippi Delta, approximately 105 miles (169 km) upriver from the Gulf of Mexico. Here, tan sediments can be seen spilling from the river into the gulf. Environmental problems along the coast include erosion and wetland loss.

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