Anders Bekeken

100 Places To Remember: The Mississipi River Delta, USA

Geschreven op 6-2-2010 - Erik van Erne. Geplaatst in Natuur Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

100places to rememberThe Natural Barricades of Louisiana. From its source at Lake Itasca in Minnesota, the Mississippi River flows southwards for more than 3,700 km until it reaches Louisiana, where it runs into the Gulf of Mexico. This is the Mississippi River Delta – a humid, subtropical landscape with around 25,000 square kilometres of rivers, fresh and saltwater marshes and low-lying barrier islands that provide a habitat for many species of birds, fish, shellfish and small mammals.

Some 1.2 million people live in New Orleans on the banks of the Mississippi. On average, the city is half a metre below sea level. The rich delta is of huge commercial importance to New Orleans – the region is ranked second in the United States for fishery production and also provides 16-18% of the nations oil supply.

At the rim of the delta, at the state of Louisianas most eastern point, the Chandeleur Islands form a chain in the shape of a crescent moon. These islands change shape to reflect the wind, tropical storms and tidal action, creating a dynamic landscape that is home to endangered species such as the brown pelican. President Theodor Roosevelt was deeply involved in the preservation of this island wilderness during his term of office from 1901-1909.

Along with the delta wetlands, the Chandeleur Islands form a buffer zone against hurricanes and storm surges for the densely populated regions of Louisiana. The ferocity of storms along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States has already increased, almost certainly as a result of climate change. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina reduced the Chandeleur Islands to half their size and large tracts of wetland and marsh were also lost. Storms and hurricanes are expected to grow even fiercer in the future.

To make matters worse, the rise in sea level caused by global warming has slowed down the rate at which it is possible to regenerate coastal areas, leaving the mainland of Louisiana even more exposed to flooding, with potentially catastrophic consequences for the ecosystems and for the people of the state.

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