LSU professor honored in China for coastal wetlands research

Environmental sciences professor Ed Laws received the Friendship Award from the People’s Republic of China on Sept. 29 for his coastal wetlands research.

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The Friendship Award is China’s highest award given to foreign experts who have made significant contributions to China’s economic and social progress. Fifty people receive the award each year and are honored at a ceremony in Beijing.

Laws has been researching coastal wetlands in China, specifically in Qingdao and Xiamen, for over 10 years. His collaborations with China began when he worked with a Chinese scientist at the University on a project at University Lake. After this initial collaboration, Laws was invited to the Qingdao Institute of Marine Geology to conduct research. From there, he was asked to teach a summer course at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and connected with Xiamen University.

Laws discovered China’s coastal wetlands face similar issues to coastal wetlands in the Mississippi Delta. On both the Mississippi Delta and the Chinese coast, there are concerns about the rising of sea levels.

Sea levels will rise 20 feet if the ice in Greenland melts. If the ice in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet melts, sea levels will rise another 20 feet.

A sea level rise of 20 feet would cause the entire Mississippi Delta south of Baton Rouge to go underwater. Another sea level rise of 20 feet would cause parts of Baton Rouge to go underwater, as well, Laws said. Shanghai, with a population of about 24 million, would also start to sink if the sea level rises 40 feet. Read full story.