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Hurricane Science

Studying hurricanes is critical to the USGS National Wetlands Research Center's research mission. Although headquartered in Lafayette, Louisiana, NWRC's hurricane researchers find themselves at work throughout the world. Presented here are some examples of NWRC's wide-ranging hurricane research efforts.

Hurricanes are large-scale disturbances of such force and size that their influence on landscape pattern and process of coastal systems is evident though still poorly understood.

The regularity and severity of tropical storms are major determinants controlling ecosystem structure and succession for coastal ecosystems. Hurricane landfall rates vary greatly for given coastal stretches of the southeastern United States.

Ecological research conducted by USGS scientists following hurricanes often involves post-storm assessments characterizing the degree and extent of damage to ecosystem structure (i.e., downed and defoliated trees, marsh loss or compression, broken coral). NWRC scientists have had first-hand opportunities with major hurricanes such as Hugo (1989), Andrew* (1992), Mitch (1998), Katrina and Rita (2005) and Ike (2008) to investigate the scale and magnitude of impact on coastal wetlands as well as process and pattern of recovery. Examples of research projects include mapping wetland loss and land cover change, monitoring vegetation, soils, surface and pore waters, analyzing linkages between habitat destruction and faunal populations, and modeling forest damage and wind-throw patterns.

 

Satellite Image of Hurricane Katrina  

Hurricane Katrina just prior to landfall in August 2005.
Image courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

 




Image of USGS Scientists during Search and Rescue operations during Hurricane Katrina  
USGS employees assist in search and rescue operations during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  

NWRC Activity during Previous Hurricane Seasons

* NOTE: The Hurricane Tracking Chart document on this page is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.

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