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The Marine Lab in the Path of Climate Change’s Fury?

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This story originally appeared on Hakai Magazine and is part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

As the storm first gathered strength in the Gulf of Mexico, its future path was indecipherable. Its capacity for damage, though, was clear. The water was warm and the air was thick and humid—the recipe for a potentially historic tempest. On Thursday, August 26, 2021, just hours after the system was classified as a tropical depression, Louisiana’s governor declared a state of emergency: Every resident along the state’s coastline needed to prepare for a major hurricane.

Louisiana is protected by a series of levees that zig and zag along the coastline—walls of earth meant to block hurricane-driven waves from reaching the state’s bigger towns and villages. Floodgates clasp shut so that local bayous don’t overflow with storm surge. By necessity, though, the DeFelice Marine Center stands outside this system of defenses.

The building—a roughly 7,000-square-meter concrete fortress that rises amid Louisiana’s marshland—is one of the state’s premier marine labs: a warren of…



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