Coastal Louisiana landscape and storm surge evolution: 1850–2110

  • Christopher G. SiverdEmail author
  • Scott C. Hagen
  • Matthew V. Bilskie
  • DeWitt H. Braud
  • R. Hampton Peele
  • Madeline R. Foster-Martinez
  • Robert R. Twilley


Storm surge models are constructed to represent the Louisiana coastal landscape circa 1850, 1890, 1930, 1970, 1990, 2010, 2030, 2050, 2070, 2090, and 2110. Historical maps are utilized to develop models with past landscapes while a continuation of recent landscape trends is assumed for future models. The same suite of meteorological wind and pressure fields is simulated with each storm surge model. Simulation results for 1850 and 1890 demonstrate minimal change in storm surge characteristics along the Louisiana coast. A mean maximum storm surge height increase of 0.26 m from 1930 to 2010 is quantified within the sediment-abundant Atchafalaya-Vermilion coastal basin, while increases of 0.34 m and 0.41 m are quantified within sediment-starved Terrebonne and Barataria, respectively. Future mean maximum storm surge heights increase across these three coastal basins by 0.67 m, 0.55 m, and 0.75 m, indicating negligible differences from 2010 to 2110, regardless of sediment availability. Results indicate that past changes in the Louisiana coastal landscape and storm surge were a consequence of local land and river management decisions while future changes are dominated by relative (subsidence and eustatic) sea level rise. Projecting landscape and surge changes beyond 50 years could aide policy makers as they work to enhance resilience across coastal Louisiana. Similar analyses could be conducted for other deltas across the world, such as the Ganges, that are experiencing challenges comparable to those of the Mississippi River Delta.


Wetland loss Land water ratio ADCIRC Coastal flood risk Hydrologic unit code Storm surge 



This work also used high-performance computing at Louisiana State University (LSU) and the Louisiana Optical Network Initiative (LONI).

Funding information

This research was supported by the Coastal SEES program of the National Science Foundation (NSF) (EAR-1533979 and EAR-1427389), the Louisiana Sea Grant Laborde Chair, and the Louisiana Geological Survey.

Compliance with ethical standards


The statements and conclusions are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF, Louisiana Sea Grant, LSU, or LONI. This work used the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE), which is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) grant ACI-1053575. This publication also made use of data sets provided by the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) which were originally produced to inform the development of the 2017 Coastal Master Plan. To implement coastal forests for mesh years 1850 and 1890, this publication made use of digitized maps of coastal Louisiana provided by the Williams Research Center of the Historic New Orleans Collection located in New Orleans, LA.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10584_2019_2575_MOESM1_ESM.docx (33.3 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 34086 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA
  2. 2.Center for Coastal ResiliencyLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA
  3. 3.Center for Computation and TechnologyLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA
  4. 4.Coastal Studies InstituteLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA
  5. 5.Louisiana Geological SurveyLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA
  6. 6.College of Coast and EnvironmentLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA

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