Research

Preliminary Findings of a Research Study of the Relationship Between Sea Level Rise and Storm Surge Along the Louisiana Gulf Coast. 

By

Mike LeBlanc, AICP, GISP
October 15, 2020


The Louisiana Gulf Coast is frequently inundated by storm surges due to hurricanes. To understand the relationship between these two events, a three series of maps were prepared.


The first series of maps demonstrate that as a rule of thumb: as storm surge is predicted so too is sea level rise. The study area of 29,008 square mile area is along the Louisiana Gulf Coast, which is divided into 117 major grids, each of which are in turn divided into 16 minor grid. The entire land area is divided into 1.8 million plots of about 10 acres. About 63,000 plots were selected for measurement of the predicted storm surge and the predicted sea level rise. These plots are summed and then averaged for statical analysis by major grid and sub-grid.


The second series of maps is in black and white for ease of distribution to the public in to be printed book with  8.5″ x 11″ sheets.  The maps show the relationship between the flooding caused by storm surge and sea rise.  For each major grid along the Gulf Coast, a right hand of the page displays sea rise in comparison to a  left hand map showing the storm surge for the same area. At the bottom of each map, there are descriptive statistics: physical features (soil types, etc) on the left hand sea rise map and cultural features (population, etc) on the right hand surge map.


The third set of maps are based on the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) for landmarks, public facilities and populated area. The over 42, 000 Louisiana places was classified into 40 or more groups, of which key features subject to flooding were identified. These include hospitals, schools, post offices, cemeteries, and  historic places. The data set is available for  download and is publicly shared.

The maps were drawn and described as planning documents in order to communicate not only to an academic audience, but also to policy makers as well as interested members of the public.


The project researcher and cartographer is Mike LeBlanc. His circulium vitae is presented on linkedin.com and elsewhere; but it is summarized here.  He has certifications in from the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) and Geographic Information Systems Professional (GISP). Both certifications require an evaluation of employment experience and education. The AICP additionally has a nationwide test while the GISP required an evaluation of a cartographic portfolio by LeBlanc as a founding member, but now requires a content mastery exam. In addition, he has a BA in History from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (1974) and a MA in Anthropology from the University of Kentucky (1982). He has additionally completed a course in computer aided design and mapping  (1991) from the South Louisiana Community College (SLCC). He nows teaches at SLCC as an instructor in the Surveying and Mapping Department in the content areas of survey plat preparation and geographic information systems.

LeBlanc’s current research cartographic interests are described in here on this website.


The findings are preliminary and should be considered research notes of a long term project being conducted. These maps and their descriptions are being prepared for eventual publication.