Funded Research: RFP1

On June 22, 2017, The RESTORE Act Center of Excellence for Louisiana announced almost $3 million in funding through the first RFP process to support 13 research, collaborative, and graduate studentship projects. All projects were completed by the fall of 2020 and the details of those awards, results, reports, and data as well as how this research can inform Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration’s Coastal Master Pan are provided below. For information about upcoming grant opportunities, visit our Research Grants page.


Final Reports

All final technical reports from RFP1 projects are publicly available and can be found below.

Available data

All data, collected data products, and metadata resulting from RFP1 projects will be publicly available within two year after project completion. Data will be available in a regional or national digital repository or data center (i.e., National Centers for Environmental Information, Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, DataOne Dash) that promotes discovery and long-term preservation. You can find links to data below for each project.

Publications

All publications are available on the LA-COE Google Scholar page.

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PROJECTS


Coupling hydrologic, tide, and surge processes to enhance flood risk assessments for the Louisiana Coastal Master Plan

Award: $499,882

PI: Scott Hagen, Professor & Director, Louisiana State University Center for Coastal Resiliency (LSU CCR)

Co-Investigators: Matthew Bilskie, LSU CCR; John Atkinson, ARCADIS; Donald Resio, University of North Florida

In the wake of the August 2016 floods in southeastern Louisiana, officials were concerned about the potential consequences of a tropical storm making landfall on already saturated soils and a flooded landscape. This project seeks to understand the compound effect of rainfall with storm surge on flooding in low-lying coastal areas as defined by flood transition zones. This modeling tool can be especially important for the assessment of Coastal Master Plan projects in low gradient coastal regions and is the basis for all work that will be done within flood transition zones under the Louisiana Watershed Initiative.



An evaluation of faulting in Holocene Mississippi River Delta strata through the merger of deep 3D and 2D seismic data with near surface imaging and measurements of vertical motion at three study areas

Award: $349,174

PI: Mark Kulp, Associate Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Director of Coastal Research Laboratory, University of New Orleans

Co-Investigators: Nancye Dawers, Tulane; Rui Zhang, University of Louisiana at Lafayette; David Culpepper, The Culpepper Group; John Lopez, The Pontchartrain Conservancy; Kevin Yeager, University of Kentucky

South Louisiana contains a number of faults, some of which could extend to the surface which would be essential to know during the planning of coastal restoration projects since these surface-impacting faults could impact how land subsides locally. This project is meant to bridge the gap between deep seismic data collected through oil and gas exploration and the surface faulting. The team worked to determine things like slip rates, whether these faults have had impacts near the surface, and assess impacts to infrastructure by mapping elevation changes along roads that cross the faults.



Assessment of coastal island restoration practices for the creation of brown pelican nesting habitat

Award: $299,733

PI: Paul Leberg, Professor in Department of Biology, University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Co-Investigator: Jordan Karubian, Tulane University

Restoration efforts on coastal islands, such as barrier islands, can significantly impact the seabirds who rely on the habitat they provide. This project worked to understand the effects of restoration efforts on the suitability of coastal islands as seabird sites for breeding, nesting, and foraging, and how changes in vegetation and predator communities impact seabird colony success. This research has many potential implications for the Louisiana Coastal Master Plan, for example, these results can be used to improve habitat suitability models for the Brown Pelican in the upcoming and future Coastal Master Plan.



From adapting in place to adaptive migration: Designing and facilitating an equitable relocation strategy

Award: $295,338

PI: Marla Nelson, Associate Professor Planning and Urban Studies, University of New Orleans

Co-Investigators: Traci Birch, LSU Coastal Sustainability Studio; Anna Brand, University of California Berkley; Renia Ehrenfeucht, University of New Mexico

As sea levels encroach upon Louisiana’s coasts and threaten coastal communities, difficult decisions about adaption and, in some extreme cases, relocation, must be considered. This project worked to understand how households adapt and respond to increasing environmental vulnerability, as well as the role of public officials in facilitating and supporting equitable relocation. In order to better understand the challenges and identify innovative practices, interviews were conducted with Terrebonne Parish residents and officials, and past policies and programs were reviewed.



Enhancing sediment retention rates of receiving basins of Louisiana sediment diversions

Award: $292,495

PI: Kehui (Kevin) Xu, Associate Professor, Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, Louisiana State University (LSU)

Co-Investigators: Samuel Bentley, LSU; Yanxia Ma, LSU; Zuo George Xue, LSU

One of the major coastal restoration and protection efforts undertaken by Louisiana’s Coastal Restoration and Protection Agency is to build river sediment diversions to reconnect the Mississippi River to the floodplain in order to mitigate land loss. This project investigated the sediment transport and retention rate in Barataria Bay, one of the proposed sites for a sediment diversion. Specifically, the study explores the sediment characteristics, the settling and compaction of dredged sediment, and the impact of Sediment Retention Enhancement Devices (SREDs).



Plant and soil response to the interactive effects of nutrient and sediment availability: Enhancing predictive capabilities for the use of sediment diversions and dredging

Award: $292,914

PI: Tracy Quirk, Assistant Professor, Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, Louisiana State University

Co-Investigator: Sean Graham, Nicholls State University

This project worked to understand the interactive effects of nutrient and sediment availability on marsh nutrient cycling, plant productivity, biomass allocation, decomposition, and soil organic matter accumulation and accretion. This work can enhance the predictive modeling capabilities of sediment retention at diversion sites. Results indicate that mineral sedimentation deposition and nutrient enrichment treatments generally resulted in stimulated plant growth (above and below ground) or at least reduced the negative effects of low intertidal elevations.



Integrating high-fidelity models with new remote sensing techniques to predict storm impacts on Louisiana coastal and deltaic systems

Award: $501,270

PI: Kehui (Kevin) Xu, Associate Professor, Department of Oceanography and Coastal Science, Louisiana State University (acting PI).

Co-Investigators: Qin Jim Chen, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Northeastern University; Claire Jeuken, Deltares USA; Ap van Dongeren, Robert McCall, and Mindert De Vries, Deltares; Brady Couvillion, U.S. Geological Survey.

The role and dynamics of barrier islands and back-barrier marshes is important to understand as they represent the “first line of defense” against sea level rise and erosion. This project worked to develop and apply an innovative model system that integrates Delft3D and XBeach models with field and remotely-sensed observations of hydrodynamic and biophysical data. This integration will enable the prediction of barrier-marsh dynamics and assess the effectiveness of marshes as a nature-based defense.


Graduate Studentship Awards (Advising Faculty are Listed)


Multiple tools for determining the fate of nitrate in coastal deltaic floodplains

Award: $63,100

Robert Twilley, Louisiana Sea Grant College Program Executive Director

This project looked at how nitrates travel through the water column using field sampling areas in the Wax Lake study area of south Louisiana and through modeling. Fieldwork and modeling results will help refine water quality models currently in use which could be applied to more specific planning of marsh creation projects for nitrogen uptake and potential impacts from upcoming sediment diversions.



Project Louisiana rivers’ sediment flux to the coastal ocean using a coupled atmospheric hydrological model

Award: $77,015

Zuo (George) Xue, Assistant Professor, Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, Louisiana State University

This research worked to better understand the contribution local rivers such as the Calcasieu, Mermentau, and Vermillion have on the stability of the Chenier Plain, especially as these local rivers are more vulnerable to long-term and short-term disturbances such as climate change, sea level rise, flooding, and restoration projects.



Constructing Mississippi River delta plain soil stratigraphy – implications for coastal land building and compactional subsidence

Award: $70,070

Frank Tsai, Professor Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Louisiana State University

This research investigated coastal land building and compactional subsidence through soil stratigraphy analysis and subsidence modeling of the Mississippi River Deltaic Plain. The project developed a three-dimensional soil stratigraphy model, analyzed spatial patterns to identify seepage pathways for surface-groundwater interaction, and developed a groundwater flow model which will imply where the ground rises, where it sinks, and where erosion could be implicated.



Determining the influence of surface water diversions on physical and nutrient characteristics of wetland soils

Award: $83,328

John White, Professor of Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, Louisiana State University

In 2007, a series of 139 stations in the Davis Pond outflow area were sampled for plant type, bulk density, total carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus, pH, moisture content, and organic matter content. Results from this were published in 2012. Now more than 11 years later and with years of operation at Davis Pond, this project team took samples in the same areas to help answer the questions on whether the operation of the diversion has altered soil properties such as bulk density, organic matter content, or nutrient content, all of which are important to coastal marsh growth and resilience in Barataria Basin.



Evaluation of radar-based precipitation datasets for applications in the Louisiana Coastal Master Plan

Award: $71,148

Emad Habib, Professor of Department of Civil Engineering, University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Precipitation varies over space and time and no current dataset is perfect, but rainfall is an input into various models used by Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority for coastal restoration and protection planning. This research examined whether radar-based precipitation datasets could provide a vital improvement to the state’s coastal models into the future. Radar-based precipitation products offer the advantage of identifying short- and long-term spatial rainfall patterns, ability to provide rainfall estimates at different time scales (hourly, daily, monthly), and could better support project-scale modeling studies that require high-resolution rainfall patterns.



Note to Authors

The standard acknowledgement statement for reports funded by LA-COE is as follows:

"This study was supported by the U.S. Department of the Treasury through the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority’s Center of Excellence Research Grants Program under the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revised Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012 (RESTORE Act) (Award No. 1 RCEGR260003-01-00). The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Treasury. "