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Climate change mitigation potential of Louisiana's coastal area: Current estimates and future projections

March 18, 2023

Coastal habitats can play an important role in climate change mitigation. As Louisiana implements its climate action plan and the restoration and risk-reduction projects outlined in its 2017 Louisiana Coastal Master Plan, it is critical to consider potential greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes in coastal habitats. This study estimated the potential climate mitigation role of existing, converted, and restored coastal habitats for years 2005, 2020, 2025, 2030, and 2050, which align with the Governor of Louisiana's GHG reduction targets. An analytical framework was developed that considered (1) available scientific data on net ecosystem carbon balance fluxes per habitat and (2) habitat areas projected from modeling efforts used for the 2017 Louisiana Coastal Master Plan to estimate the net GHG flux of coastal area. The coastal area was estimated as net GHG sinks of −38.4 ± 10.6 and −43.2 ± 12.0 Tg CO2 equivalents (CO2e) in 2005 and 2020, respectively. The coastal area was projected to remain a net GHG sink in 2025 and 2030, both with and without the implementation of Coastal Master Plan projects (means ranged from −25.3 to −34.2 Tg CO2e). By 2050, with model-projected wetland loss and conversion of coastal habitats to open water due to coastal erosion and relative sea level rise, Louisiana's coastal area was projected to become a net source of GHG emissions both with and without the Coastal Master Plan projects. However, in the year 2050, the Louisiana Coastal Master Plan project implementation was projected to avoid the release of +8.8 ± 1.3 Tg CO2e compared with an alternative with no action. Reduction in current and future stressors to coastal habitats, including impacts from sea level rise, as well as the implementation of restoration projects could help to ensure coastal areas remain a natural climate solution.

Publication Year 2023
Title Climate change mitigation potential of Louisiana's coastal area: Current estimates and future projections
DOI 10.1002/eap.2847
Authors Melissa Millman Baustian, Bingqing Liu, Leland C. Moss, Alyssa Dausman, James W. Pahl
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ecological Applications
Index ID 70242120
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Wetland and Aquatic Research Center