Title page for ETD etd-10312016-094002

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Boutwell, James Luke
URN etd-10312016-094002
Title The Vulnerability of Louisiana to Hurricane Damage and the Value of Wetlands for Hurricane Risk Reduction
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Agricultural Economics
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Caffey, Rex Committee Chair
Fannin, James Committee Member
Westra, John Committee Member
  • Wetlands
  • Hurricanes
  • Economic Damages
  • Ecosystem Services
  • Environmental Economics
  • Natural Infrastructure
Date of Defense 2016-10-19
Availability unrestricted
Coastal Louisiana is annually threatened by coastal storms. Population grown, wetland loss, and potentially increasing storm frequency are likely to increase coastal vulnerability to these events. Increasingly, coastal management entities are managing land resources to reduce the economic impact of natural disasters with the use of natural infrastructure. This is true in Louisiana where the Louisiana Coastal Master Plan allocates billions of dollars to coastal restoration projects, many of which are intended to mitigate economic damages from tropical storms and hurricanes. Despite this significant proposed investment, the risk reduction value provided by these projects is not well known.

This analysis uses model simulation data and hurricane impact data to estimate the parish-level impacts of hurricanes in coastal parishes from 1997-2008. Using this information, an expected damage function is estimated that describes economic damages as a function of population, relative wetland area, and storm intensity. The model is used to estimate the annual vulnerability of coastal parishes to hurricane damage. Future scenarios of hurricane regime change, wetland loss, and population growth are imposed to estimate the increase in coastal storm vulnerability that can be expected under these scenarios. The model parameters are used to estimate the value of coastal wetlands as natural infrastructure for hurricane risk reduction, and important trends in coastal wetland loss are highlighted in terms of their importance for the future vulnerability of coastal Louisiana.

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