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UNO Professor To Learn From East Coast Marshes

Zoe Hughes
University of New Orleans
UNO professor Ioannis Georgiou (far right) and his collaborators collect data during a field expedition in Massachusett’s Plum Island Sound.";

A professor at the University of New Orleans has received a grant to study marshes. The research will compare wetlands in Louisiana with those on the east coast.

Ioannis Georgiou, an associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, will use the $88,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Federation to study marshes at Plum Island Sound, an estuary in northeastern Massachusetts.

Georgiou wants to learn how sediment builds up over time and how it changes as parts of the marsh are washed away into the ocean.

The marshes in Massachusetts are much different from coastal Louisiana, which are experiencing some of the highest rates of land loss due to sea level rise and subsidence. But in Louisiana, the Mississippi River carries with it a lot of rich sediment that helps build healthy marshes.

“To some extent you could say we’re kind of lucky to have the Mississippi, although our rate of (land) loss is unprecedented,” says Georgiou.

He and a team of scientists from Boston University and the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences aim to measure how marshes are impacted by smaller rivers that carry less sediment than the Mississippi, and what options there are for building marshes without such sediment.

Georgiou plans to compare different types of marshes and create mathematic models to predict how much is lost and how fast. 

Support for WWNO's Coastal Desk comes from the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the Coypu Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation. 

Tegan has reported on the coast for WWNO since 2015. In this role she has covered a wide range of issues and subjects related to coastal land loss, coastal restoration, and the culture and economy of Louisiana’s coastal zone, with a focus on solutions and the human dimensions of climate change. Her reporting has been aired nationally on Planet Money, Reveal, All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Marketplace, BBC, CBC and other outlets. She’s a recipient of the Pulitzer Connected Coastlines grant, CUNY Resilience Fellowship, Metcalf Fellowship, and countless national and regional awards.

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