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Head of NOAA makes rare visit to LSU on Tuesday, discusses coastline resilience work

1 month 4 weeks 7 hours ago Tuesday, February 20 2024 Feb 20, 2024 February 20, 2024 7:13 PM February 20, 2024 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - LSU and the Water Campus got a high-profile visitor Tuesday.

Richard Spinrad, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and under secretary of commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, met with LSU to recognize its nation-leading coastal and oceanographic work. NOAA's visit to Baton Rouge comes ahead of an Ocean Sciences Meeting between policymakers, students and educators in New Orleans on Wednesday.

LSU has been working with NOAA for well over 10 years, and the partnership is aimed at better understanding coastlines and advancing NOAA's mission: understanding and predicting changes in climate, weather, ocean and coasts to share with others and conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems.

A representative of NOAA said that the research here in Baton Rouge ties in nicely with the mission and vision of NOAA and the work it is doing in coastal resilience.

"This is top-class work going on here, but even more importantly, it is directly relevant to our mission," Spinrad said. "We're trying to build out a number of capabilities at NOAA for what we call a climate-ready nation. Basically, making sure communities, industries [and] individuals understand what's going to happen with sea level rise, how storm surge might change as hurricanes come up."

Coastal resilience is the ability for a community or area to bounce back after hurricanes, coastal storms and flooding instead of simply bracing for impact.

"Whether we're talking about sea level rise of the changing dynamics of hurricanes and tropical storms, we're seeing that coastline resilience is something that [has to] be addressed immediately."

Baton Rouge is all too familiar with coastal resilience after being battered with floods and tropical storms. The Water Campus said that the Capital City has seen a 1,000-year storm —unnamed storms that are not hurricanes and not rain — two times in a singular year: 2016. Since then, the Water Campus its research has been instrumental to elevating the work being done on coastal and deltaic issues, where that intelligence and knowledge is then shared with the world. The Water Campus said it is "experts in water not by choice, experts in water by necessity."

The research conducted by LSU at the Water Campus, LSU Center for River Studies and LSU Coastal Ecosystem Design Studio are all a part in understanding coastal resilience and security. Spinrad said that this plays hand-in-hand with security of home and property from severe storms and security of food supplies like fishing and seafood, which are one of the lifelines of the Louisiana economy.

"A lot of what they've been showing me this morning is informed by the concerns, requirements and needs of communities," Spinrad said. "And at the end of the day, that's what taxpayers expect."

NOAA has $4 billion to invest into coastal resilience research and both academic and research institutions like LSU. Spinrad and NOAA were impressed with the partnership thus far and after Tuesday's visit, it seems that partnership and creating a world with coastal resiliency will keep moving forward.

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