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Study reveals key factors behind Louisiana’s 2023 water crisis


In 2023, Louisiana faced an unprecedented double water crisis marked by a severe drought and saltwater intrusion into the Mississippi River. In a new study, scientists used the Evaporative Demand Drought Index (EDDI) to study this emergency, revealing that the drought began rapidly in June 2023 through a phenomenon known as flash drought. The Mississippi River basin experienced high evaporation in the following months, exacerbating the water shortage. Historically low river flows allowed seawater to intrude far upriver, threatening the water supply to New Orleans. 

This research, published in Geophysical Research Letters, highlights a growing concern for river levels and future water management in the Mississippi River Basin. The findings emphasize the importance of considering both local and basin-wide atmospheric conditions in predicting and mitigating such crises. As climate continues to change, understanding the interplay between evaporation, precipitation, and river flow will be vital for protecting water resources. 

The Climate Program Office’s Modeling, Analysis, Predictions, and Projections (MAPP) Program and National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) supported this project with a grant aimed at advancing our capability to more integrally characterize and anticipate U.S. droughts in the context of hydroclimatic variability and change.

Read the paper »

For more information, contact Clara Deck.

Image credit: Public Domain, Pixabay

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