New Orleans Is In Big Trouble

NASA has verified that New Orleans and the surrounding locations are sinking at a much greater rate than formerly believed. Utilizing airborne radar to map the rate at which the ground is sinking over a duration of a few years, they had the ability to document in great detail precisely which areas are most at threat, and where planning and building have to be kept track of.

The Earth's surface area can sink due to a mix of natural and man-made causes. The weight of transferred sediment can, for example, cause subsidence, as can the motion of glaciers and the compaction of shallow sediments. But human beings can also affect this procedure by draining oil and gas, or in the example of New Orleans, by the withdrawal of water.

The extraction of groundwater and dewatering of the area, in which surface area water is eliminated in order to prevent standing water or saturated earth, is causing the city to sink. This has actually been further aggravated by the building of levees, which prevent the natural build-up of sediment that counteract the sinking.

This is most severe in areas upriver along the Mississippi River, specifically the enterprise zones of Norco and Michoud, where the ground is sinking by an alarming 5 centimeters (2 inches) each year. Other areas of concern were in New Orleans Upper and Lower 9th Ward, where the subsidence might be associated with the water levels of the Mississippi. Of specific issue is the changes in ground level around the levees developed to prevent flooding, as they discovered regions behind the levees sinking by 4 centimeters (1.6 inches) a year.

The data used by NASA to develop the maps, released in a paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research study, was developed using NASA's Uninhabited Aerial Automobile Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR), which has the ability to track changes in elevation on the Earth's surface to a centimeter distinction. This by itself cannot inform the scientists what is causing the changes in ground level, so they then have to disentangle all the possible causes, which operate at various time and space scales.

While that the region is sinking is not new, NASA have actually highlighted that the degree to which it is taking place is much greater than previously believed, and that it might be putting specific areas at a much higher danger of flooding, as if there wasn't a big enough risk to start with. It is hoped that the data can be utilized to try to lower or reverse the subsidence in the most seriously impacted areas, in addition to help with planning choices for the future.

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