[The Lens/ProPublica] Losing Ground – Louisiana’s Vanishing Coasts

By Bob Marshall, Al Shaw, Brian Jacobs, et al. Originally published on ProPublica – http://projects.propublica.org/louisiana/

Louisiana is drowning, quickly.

In just 80 years, some 2,000 square miles of its coastal landscape have turned to open water, wiping places off maps, bringing the Gulf of Mexico to the back door of New Orleans and posing a lethal threat to an energy and shipping corridor vital to the nation’s economy.

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And it’s going to get worse, even quicker.

Scientists now say one of the greatest environmental and economic disasters in the nation’s history is rushing toward a catastrophic conclusion over the next 50 years, so far unabated and largely unnoticed.

At the current rates that the sea is rising and land is sinking, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists say by 2100 the Gulf of Mexico could rise as much as 4.3 feet across this landscape, which has an average elevation of about 3 feet. If that happens, everything outside the protective levees — most of Southeast Louisiana — would be underwater.

Read more and view the interactive maps and satellite images at – http://projects.propublica.org/louisiana/