Coastal Desk

Southeast Louisiana is sinking under the waves faster than any coastal landscape in the world. With so much at stake for Louisiana and the nation, New Orleans Public Radio has made coastal news a priority.

Since mid-2014 our Coastal Desk reporting team has been producing frequent news reports and in-depth features covering coastal erosion and restoration; hurricane protection; offshore energy and other coastal businesses; wildlife and fisheries impacts; and coastal communities and culture.

Support for the Coastal Desk comes from the Walton Family Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, and local listeners.

Chris Granger / Times-Picayune | The Advocate

By Tristan Baurick, Times-Picayune | The Advocate

Up close is not the best way to see the world’s biggest gate.

Standing alongside it from one end, where a three-story hinge links to a massive steel lattice, the Maeslant storm surge barrier resembles three crane towers toppled across one another. From the opposite end, nearly 280 yards away, it’s an imposing white wall, like a drive-in movie screen stretched the length of 2½ football fields.

And that’s only half of it.

Chris Granger / Times-Picayune | The Advocate

After Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana officials sought advice from the Dutch.

It makes sense. In the Netherlands, people have been managing water for a thousand years. Coastal communities across the world are now facing new climate threats — rising seas, more intense storms and heavier rain.


Mississippi River flooding caused $20 billion in damage in 2019, according to a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

As for 2020, forecasters say it’s too early to predict how the flood season will compare.

(Chris Granger/Times-Picayune | The Advocate)

After Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana officials sought advice from the Dutch. Which makes sense: in the Netherlands people have been managing water for about a thousand years. Coastal communities across the world are now facing new existential threats — rising seas, more intense storms and heavier rain.

National Phenology Network

Spring is coming earlier, and it is bringing warmer temperatures and earlier blooming trees and flowers. The USA National Phenology Network tracks these factors and has documented an early spring across the southeast. Reporter Tegan Wendland talked with director Theresa Crimmins about so-called “false springs” and the implications for plants and animals.

Tegan Wendland

A restoration project that has been on the books for 20 years finally got funding Wednesday. The state will soon break ground on the Maurepas Swamp diversion.

Cantrell's administration held a press conference Tuesday to announce the new fleet of six hybrid trucks. The SWB has more than 100 trucks in its total fleet.
Screenshot from Cantrell's Facebook livestream

Mayor LaToya Cantrell and public officials unveiled a fleet of hybrid city vehicles Tuesday.

Flanked by officials, Cantrell stood in front of one of six new electric-hybrid Sewerage and Water Board trucks, which look like standard white Ford F-150’s with the agency’s classic yellow stripe along the side.

Tegan Wendland / WWNO

Native American tribes in Louisiana and Alaska are asking the United Nations for help. Tribal leaders say climate change is destroying their communities and forcing them to relocate.

Rising seas and bigger storms are threatening tribal communities all across the country. In Louisiana, several tribes live in areas along the coast that are washing away fast, due to coastal erosion, sea level rise and the erosion of canals carved by oil and gas companies.

Pattie Steib / Shutterstock

New research finds that oil and gas development in the gulf south will greatly increase greenhouse gas emissions.

Researchers from the University of Texas looked at existing – and planned – oil, gas and petrochemical infrastructure in Louisiana and Texas.

As the country turns away from heavily-polluting coal fired power plants and towards natural gas, the region has seen huge investments in LNG production.

But the researchers found that all of the new plants and refineries will produce as much pollution as 131 coal-fired power plants.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

A new study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the federal government should spend $3.2 billion to maintain the levee system around New Orleans over the next 50 years. The study recommends raising the levees and upgrading the flood protection systems in order to match the rising sea levels and sinking land.

In the Lower Ninth Ward, news of future flood risks puts residents on high alert.