In the wake of ongoing land loss and devastating natural disasters, Scott A. Hemmerling’s A Louisiana Coastal Atlas illustrates Louisiana’s multilayered response to environmental crises. Whether through gradual occurrences such as rising sea levels, subsidence, and coastal erosion, or acute events such as hurricanes and river floods, the region’s persistent perils have required its residents to continuously prepare, react, and adjust. Through more than 250 vibrant and revealing maps, A Louisiana Coastal Atlas presents a history of adaptation as a guidepost for an increasingly uncertain future.
Hemmerling’s comprehensive, easy-to-understand maps depict changes in land area, population density and diversity, employment patterns, agricultural and offshore production, and other effects of environmental change and natural and human-caused disasters upon residents of the coastal zone. He employs a wide range of demographic, economic, social, and environmental data to show cartographically the resilience or retreat of coastal communities. Examples of successful adaptation include rice cultivation and cattle farming on coastal prairies; expansion of the shrimp industry from inland waterways to Gulf waters; and the shift from an onshore- to an offshore-based oil and gas industry. Maladaptive practices, often influenced by social policy, include continued settlement and resettlement in flood hazard zones and the use of construction methods and materials ill suited to low, flood-prone areas.
A Louisiana Coastal Atlas captures in accessible visual form the effects of more than half a century of geographical change and human behavior, creating a vivid picture that will help coastal planners, government officials, scientists, residents, and organizations anticipate and negotiate hazards to come.
Scott Hemmerling is the Director of People, Resources & Technology for The Water Institute of the Gulf. He has worked as a geographer with the U.S. Geological Survey's National Wetlands Research Center and served as a research associate at Louisiana State University's Coastal Marine Institute. He earned a Bachelor of Science in environmental studies from the State University of New York at Buffalo and a Master of Science in Urban Studies with a concentration in Applied Urban Anthropology from the University of New Orleans. He earned his Doctoral degree from the Department of Geography and Anthropology at Louisiana State University.
Craig E. Colten is the Carl O. Sauer Professor of Geography and Anthropology at Louisiana State University and the author of Perilous Place, Powerful Storms: Hurricane Protection in Coastal Louisiana and An Unnatural Metropolis: Wresting New Orleans from Nature.