- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 5, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Two scientists from a Baton Rouge-based research nonprofit are on an international team organized by the U.S. Office of Naval Research to study Vietnam’s Mekong River Delta.

Mead Allison is director of physical processes and sediment systems and Ehab Meselhe is director of natural systems modeling and monitoring at The Water Institute of the Gulf.

Allison will join other team members Sunday on a weeklong trip to the Mekong Delta.

The Office of Naval Research funded the project to foster partnership between American and Vietnamese research institutions studying the Mekong Delta. The delta shares many cultural, economic and ecological similarities to the Mississippi River Delta and Louisiana’s coast, including land loss and the impacts of climate change and human modification.

The project represents a major opportunity for the participating institutions, Allison said.

“Information sharing and collaboration is critical to improving the health and functionality of all vital water bodies, whether it is the Mississippi or the Mekong River,” he said in a news release. “This project will give us information we need in developing practical solutions for the challenges facing the Mississippi River Delta.”

At meetings in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Can Tho, the Americans will describe research techniques best suited for the Mekong Delta. Topics include how river channels influenced by tides carry sediment; how water moves through mangrove forests, seabed sedimentation and modeling applications. Participants will also design Mekong River studies, with research to begin later this year.

The group includes researchers from New Zealand, The Netherlands, North Carolina State, Washington State and Boston universities, the University of Washington and the Florida Institute of Technology.

Participating groups from Vietnam include the Institute of Marine Geology & Geophysics, the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, Can Tho University and Vietnam University.

The Water Institute of the Gulf, created in 2011, studies coastal, deltaic, river and water resource systems within the Gulf Coast and around the world.

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