Future storm mitigation an issue

Climate Forum to Explore Katrina Impact

Whether Hurricane Katrina was a weather event or was a spawn of climate change can be debated.

The “bottom line” that is not debated is the widespread effect a natural disaster can wreak on human settlements and industry infrastructure.

The fact that a substantial portion of the U.S. energy industry is centered in the Gulf region meant that the entire country felt the effects of Hurricane Katrina – and that it would be likely to feel the impact of future severe storm events in the Gulf of Mexico.

The AAPG Global Climate Change Committee is sponsoring a forum at New Orleans on “Climate Change, Sea Level Change and Storm Event Impact on Sedimentary Environments and Petroleum Industry Infrastructure, U.S. Gulf of Mexico.”

GCCC chair Priscilla Grew says the Committee proposed this session for New Orleans in order to present new research on sedimentary processes associated with major storms – and to respond to the interest within the energy industries in mitigating impacts of future storms in the Gulf region.

This and an oral and a poster session on carbon dioxide capture and geologic sequestration will be the concluding activities of the AAPG Global Climate Change Committee.

While, as NASA states, the difference between weather and climate is a measure of time, the session chaired by Julie Kupecz and Jeffrey Levine has gathered a panel of experts to explore some “bottom line” questions:

♦What is the historical and recent record of impact of severe storms on coastal erosion, sediment redistribution and flooding along the U.S. Gulf Coast?

Brian J. Soden, of the University of Miami, will set the stage with a presentation on “Modeling and Interpreting the Impact of Severe Storms and Their Relation to Climate.”

♦How does recent (post-1900) sea level rise relate to post-glacial sea level rise? What are the prospects for the future and the likely impact?

“Impact of Sea-Level Change and Regional Subsidence on Coastal Evolution: Prospects for the Mississippi Delta” will be presented by Michael Blum, of ExxonMobil Upstream Research.

♦In what way are severe storms affected by climate, and what is the potential long-term impact of climate change on storm frequency and intensity?

“An Overview of Extreme Storms in the US Gulf of Mexico, and Their Coastal Impact” will be presented by Asbury (Abby) Sallenger, of the U.S. Center for Coastal & Watershed Studies.

How is subsidence of the Mississippi Delta, in combination with projected sea level rise, likely to impact regional coastal infrastructure?

John Anderson, of Rice University, will present “Response of Gulf Coast Bays and Coastal Barriers to Changes in the Rate of Sea-Level Rise and Sediment Supply.”

♦What are the practical consequences as reflected in the strategies and plans being implemented for mitigation and adaptation in response to the risk of future severe storm events?

Robert Patterson, vice president for Shell Upstream Americas will present “Petroleum industry response to storms and sea level changes.”

There also is time set for Q&As as well as open discussion – which is always interesting when geologists discuss climate change effects.

The session is set for 1:15-5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 14.

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Emphasis: Annual Convention