The knowledge available among AGU members provides scientific expertise on nearly all of the physical environment of the dynamic Gulf Coast ecosystem complex. Intelligently rebuilding features such as fisheries, oil fields, seaports, farms, and wetlands after hurricanes Katrina and Rita will require ‘a well-constructed collaborative effort to maximize the role of science in decisions made about the rebuilding,’ wrote Charles Groat, former director of the U.S. Geological Survey, in a news article published in Eos that stimulated an AGU meeting of experts.
As a step toward developing a scientific basis for safer communities along the Florida-Alabama-Mississippi-Louisiana-Texas coastline, AGU convened an interdisciplinary ‘Conference of Experts’ on 11–12 January 2006 to discuss what we, as Earth and space scientists, know about the present and projected environment in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast areas affected by the hurricanes of 2005. Twenty scientists, all experts in the fields of science relevant to the Gulf Coast, met to consider ideas for a coordinated effort to integrate science into the decision-making processes necessary for the area's sustainable rebirth. Political, economic, and social issues were intentionally not discussed. Nevertheless, it was recognized that these issues are intertwined with science and are of paramount importance.This report contains a summary of the discussion and is intended to be helpful in providing scientific understanding useful in redevelopment of the affected area.