The coastal region of the northern Gulf of Mexico owes its current landscape structure to an array of tectonic, erosional and depositional, climatic, geochemical, hydrological, ecological, and human processes that have resulted in some of the world's most complex, dynamic, productive, and threatened ecosystems. Catastrophic hurricane landfalls, ongoing subsidence and erosion exacerbated by sea-level rise, disintegration of barrier island chains, and high rates of wetland loss have called attention to the vulnerability of northern Gulf coast ecosystems, habitats, built infrastructure, and economy to natural and anthropogenic threats. The devastating hurricanes of 2005 (Katrina and Rita) motivated the U.S. Geological Survey Coastal and Marine Geology Program and partnering researchers to pursue studies aimed at understanding and predicting landscape change and the associated storm hazard vulnerability of northern Gulf coast region ecosystems and human communities. Attaining this science goal requires increased knowledge of landscape evolution on geologic, historical, and human time scales, and analysis of the implications of such changes in the natural and built components of the landscape for hurricane impact susceptibility. This Special Issue of the Journal of Coastal Research communicates northern Gulf of Mexico research results that (1) improve knowledge of prior climates and depositional environments, (2) assess broad regional ecosystem structure and change over Holocene to human time scales, (3) undertake process studies and change analyses of dynamic landscape components, and (4) integrate framework, climate, variable time and spatial scale mapping, monitoring, and discipline-specific process investigations within interdisciplinary studies.
Additional publication details
Introduction to the special issue on “Understanding and predicting change in the coastal ecosystems of the northern Gulf of Mexico”