other models suggest, flooding hazards would be more problematic than increasing saltwater intrusion.
Although a causative link between global warming and severe/extreme weather has not been clearly established, Louisiana's susceptibility to such weather dictates that any climate change in frequency or intensity is likely to have a significant cumulative effect on environmental and social systems. In particular, if global warming increases the frequency and/or intensity of tropical cyclones as many climatologists suggest, acute loss of wetland habitats, human life, and property will accelerate. More chronic and insidious changes, such as in thunderstorm frequency and drought intensity, will also be important. Increased attention to emergency and disaster management, particularly in land-use planning and levee protection, is warranted. The degree to which the effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita of2005 were exacerbated by global climatic change is still being debated.
Louisiana is also vulnerable to increased impacts on public health resulting from global climatic changes. Owing to its location near the poleward margin of the domain of tropical diseases, small increases in frost-free season length may be accompanied by significantly more cases of encephalitis, West Nile virus, dengue fever, and other tropical diseases. Increased impacts of heat waves will affect the disadvantaged and elderly disproportionately. Moreover, as summer temperatures rise under clear skies, tropospheric ozone is likely to become an increasing problem in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-designated Baton Rouge non-attainment zone and elsewhere. Effects of tropospheric ozone include respiratory illness, damage to plant membranes, and increased oxidation rates on physical structures. Rising temperatures will also increase the bacterial contamination of shellfish. Rises in water tables induced by additional precipitation and/or sea level rise would also place contaminants from dump sites and viruses and bacteria from septic systems closer to the surface, magnifying the impact on humans and livestock.
Agriculture and forestry in Louisiana will also be affected by global warming-induced climatic changes. Although some impacts may be positive, owing primarily to increases in growing season length, others place Louisiana in a more precarious situation. Pest populations would probably increase under longer frost-free seasons, and the additional "fertilization" by elevated carbon dioxide (CO2) may benefit weeds more than crops, increasing expenses for pest and weed control. If precipitation decreases, the percentage of Louisiana farmland that is irrigated will increase from the current 25 percent, as will irrigation costs per acre. Landscape desiccation would also increase forest fire frequency, as in other states.
The costs of national and international policy changes regarding fossil fuel production and consumption may be felt more in Louisiana than in any other state except Alaska. Research on alternative energy sources and on reducing environmental impacts of fossil fuels may provide solutions that will preserve Louisiana's role as an energy producer while minimizing environmental impacts. Plans may involve using natural gas or methane hydrates from the Gulf of Mexico floor to produce hydrogen for fuel cells, sequestering the solidified carbon waste in the thousands of abandoned oil and gas wells throughout
Louisiana, and transporting hydrogen fuel via the vast network of existing pipelines.
sEE ALso: Diseases; Hurricanes and Typhoons; Louisiana State University; Salinity; Sea Level, Rising.
BIBLIoGRAPHY. Legislative Study Group, HCR 74, Danger and Opportunity: Implications of Climate Change for Louisiana (1999); Z.H. Ning and K.K. Abdollahi, Current Stresses and Potential Vulnerabilities: Implications of Global Change for the Gulf Coast Region of the United States (Franklin Press, 2000); Z.H. Ning and K.K. Abdol-lahi, Global Climate Change and Its Consequences on the Gulf Coast Region of the United States (Franklin Press, 1999); Z.H. Ning, et al., Integrated Assessment of the Climate Change Impacts on the Gulf Coast Region (LSU Graphic Services, 2003); Union of Concerned Scientists, "Confronting Climate Change in the Gulf Coast Region," www.ucsusa.org (cited November 2007).
Louisiana state University research IN CLIMATIC change and variability at Louisiana State University (LSU) in Baton Rouge, Louisiana has been ongoing since the 1930s when coastal geomorphologist Richard J. Russell completed maps showing spatial variation through time in the Koeppen climatic boundaries across the United States. Since that time, climatic change research at LSU has focused on synoptic-to-global-scale atmospheric circulation, hydroclimatology, paleoclimatol-ogy, and surface/atmosphere interactions. Researchers affiliated with the Department of Geography and Anthropology accomplished the majority of the work, but other scientists on campus also make contributions, from the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, Department of Geology and Geophysics, Hurricane Research Center, LSU AgCenter, and Earth Scan Lab.
Most of the work on atmospheric circulation trends has been at the multi-decadal timescale. The study of the long-term nature of atmospheric circulation at LSU was begun by Robert Muller, whose con tributions to atmospheric circulation research over five decades have centered on manual synoptic typing and, more recently, long-term changes to tropical cyclone frequencies in the Atlantic/Gulf of Mexico basins. LSU climatologists have applied manual synoptic typing to New England and automated typing techniques to the Great Lakes region.
The work on temporal trends in cyclones has also been expanded to include extratropical coastal storms and winter storms in New England. Muller also introduced hydroclimatology to LSU through his work on long-term changes in the water balance of the United States.
Work since that time has expanded to include trends in heavy rainfall, precipitation in general, water balance-modeled streamflow and runoff, and dew-point variability in the southeastern United States.
Other work by LSU scientists has investigated decadal-scale changes to such features as surface anticyclones, the Northern Hemispheric circumpolar vortex, teleconnections and their relationship to the circulation and precipitation of the Gulf of Mexico region, and circulation impacts on east-African precipitation.
Other examples of recent work directly related to global climatic circulation changes have involved assessment of model representation of the North Atlantic Oscillation, and the association of the North Atlantic Oscillation to the Arctic Oscillation.
A third research emphasis has emerged since the 1990s, under the leadership of Kam-biu Liu, in paleoclimatology. One major focus is on Quaternary paleoenvironmental reconstruction using pollen and phytolith proxies. Thematic examples include palyno-logical evidence for long-term changes in the Asian monsoon and Amazonian ecosystems, and highresolution pollen records of El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and monsoon changes from Andean and Tibetan ice cores. Another focus of this group has involved the use of coastal lake-sediment proxy records to infer the Holocene history of tropical cyclone landfalls—the new field of paleotempestology.
To date, Liu's research group has conducted paleoenvironmental and paleotempestological reconstructions throughout the Gulf-Atlantic coast of the United States, Central America and the Caribbean, the Amazon basin, the Bolivian Altiplano, East Africa, the Tibetan Plateau, Mongolia, and East Asia.
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