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Rooted against the wind and water: a Katrina-versary webcomic

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To commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, illustrator, ecologist, and native Orleanian Uma Nagendra takes a look at what we’ve learned since Katrina about how wetlands mitigate the devastating impacts of hurricanes.

Sometimes the shock of a disaster forces us to rethink. In the 10 years since Hurricane Katrina, what have we learnedThe storm and its aftermath sparked renewed interest in disaster response and protection, including attempts to fix broken policies. Coastal wetlands are generally accepted as important natural storm buffers-- in addition to the many other ecosystem services they provide.Wetlands ameliorate storm intensity and storm surgeMost research on hurricane mitigation by wetlands focuses on storm surge, the major culprit in the damage to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Storm surge is what happens when the two forces of WIND and WATER combine, creating a large volume of water rushing towards the land.Wetlands can help break up the forces of wind and water, which prevents waves from increasing in sizeThe effectiveness of wetlands on a storm depends on landscape and hurricane factorsRecent advances show that wetlands mitigate storm surge best when a hurricane moves quickly across land protected by inland marshes, but are less helpful when hurricanes move slowlyAn effective storm protection system depends on levees as well as healthy wetlandsSmart hurricane protection is multifaceted: Wetlands, Levees, Building Codes, Evacuation, Rethinking linear canals.


Uma NagendraUma Nagendra
is a native New Orleanian now living in Athens, GA. She has been interested in natural disturbances since Katrina, and is currently a PhD Candidate studying forest recovery in the Southern Appalachians. When she’s not crawling over fallen trees in North Georgia, Uma enjoys aerial circus arts, playing the mandolin, and convincing other people to dance. She can be reached through her website or followed on Twitter @atinytornado.

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