In coastal Louisiana, communities have thrived for centuries due to the wealth of natural resources in the region; as infrastructure is increasingly and repeatedly impacted, coastal communities are struggling to continue to adapt to the rapidly evolving, tropical cyclone-influenced, deltaic landscape. Port Fourchon (PF) is located in the Mississippi River delta plain on the rapidly disintegrating Bayou Lafourche headland. Transgressive reworking of this abandoned delta complex has contributed to the highest rates of relative sea level rise (9 mm/yr), shoreline retreat (3 km/century), and land loss (28 km2
/yr for 1932-2016) in the nation. Despite the extremely geomorphically unstable setting, PF is a strategic location proximal to the Gulf of Mexico’s bustling offshore oil and gas industry and is economically essential; it is the staging area and support hub for more than 90% of all Gulf of Mexico oil and gas exploration, development, and production activity. Moreover, the estuaries surrounding PF, and neighboring Grand Isle, provide an essential stop over point for migratory birds as well as habitat for hundreds of other species. These estuaries also support one of the most productive fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico. To help communities persist and prosper in this highly dynamic location, an aggressive, science-based adaptation is needed.
Here, we describe a methodology developed by a transdisciplinary team of scientists, engineers, and planners to inform an adaptation strategy for 50 years into the future. The method is founded on a comprehensive understanding of landscape evolution, forcing mechanisms, and application of geomorphic and ecological concepts toward development and validation of numerical models that predict landscape evolution and ecosystem response. The goal is to develop nature-based solutions for managing sediment dynamics and coastal transgression, ecosystem restoration, and community adaptation, by maximizing benefits to critical infrastructure, community protection, ecosystems, and local community wellbeing. This methodology uses a collective approach, integrating across disciplines and bringing scientific rigor to community resilience planning to adapt to complex socio-ecological change.