Alternate Title

An Analysis of the Long-Term Salinity Patterns in the Louisiana Coastal Zone


Saltwater intrusion is believed to be one of the greatest threats to Louisiana's fishery and wildlife resources. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has maintained salinity recording stations throughout the state's coastal marshes since the 1960's. We applied several different analytical approaches to the salinity data from 17 stations to determine whether this data base could be used to detect and quantity long-term salinity trends in coastal Louisiana.

We did not detect a large-scale, consistent trend over time in coastal salinities across the state. Problems that hindered the detection of long-term trends included short periods of record and the placement of the recording stations in salt and brackish marsh areas, where we would not expect to find great changes in salinity. For the data to be useful in monitoring salinity trends in coastal marshes, especially with respect to saltwater intrusion, stations should be added in fresh and intermediate marshes. In addition, the relationships our study revealed between short- and long-term data indicate that records covering less than a decade are insufficient to denote long-term salinity changes, barring some major modification of the hydrologic regime.