TITLE: Island in a Storm: A Rising Sea, A Vanishing Coast and a Nineteenth Century Disaster That Warns of a Warmer World
SPEAKER: Abby Sallenger
EVENT DATE: 2010/03/16
RUNNING TIME: 55 minutes
In the mid-19th century, the Isle Derniere was emerging as an exclusive summer resort near the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. About 100 miles from New Orleans, it attracted the most prominent members of antebellum Louisiana society. Without warning, on Aug. 10, 1856, a ferocious hurricane swept across the island, killing half of its 400 inhabitants. Sallenger traces the link between the environmental deaths across the Mississippi delta and the human deaths that occurred when the storm swept ashore. The result is a fascinating portrait of a coast in perpetual motion and a rising sea that made the Isle Derniere particularly vulnerable to a great hurricane. According to Sallenger, "In the end this is the story of an island dying. And it is a story that is not over. Between the 1890s and 1988, the Isle Derniere retreated landward about two-thirds of a mile while losing three-quarters of its surface area. At its heart lies the image of a warmer world - and of what our children and grandchildren may endure from future hurricanes coming ashore on rapidly rising seas."
Speaker Biography: Abby (Asbury) Sallenger is an oceanographer who received his B.A. in geology and Ph.D. in marine science from the University of Virginia. He is the former chief scientist of the U.S. Geological Survey's Center for Coastal Geology and currently leads the USGS storm impact research group, investigating how the coast changes during extreme storms.
SERIES: Books & Beyond