Mangroves Threatened by Sea Level Rise Could Disappear by 2050
Mangroves play a vital role in capturing carbon from the atmosphere. Mangrove forests are tremendous assets in the fight to stem the climate crisis. They store more carbon than a rainforest of the same size.
However, they are under threat from sea level rise. A new study found that if emissions continue unabated, mangroves will not be able to keep up and could disappear in 30 years, as The Verge reported.
The new study published in the journal Science found that mangroves will start to die out if sea levels rise just six millimeters per year. However, mangroves are more likely to survive when sea level rise is less than 5 millimeters (about 0.2 inches) per year, which is projected for low-emissions scenarios this century, according to a Rutgers University statement.
"Under high-emissions scenarios, rates of sea-level rise on many tropical coastlines will exceed 7 millimeters per year, the rate at which we concluded there's a 6.2 percent probability mangroves can sustain growth," said co-author Erica Ashe, a post-doctoral scientist in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Rutgers University, in the statement. "The loss of these mangrove ecosystems could result in increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and fewer vital buffers against storm surges in the long run."
Around the world, there are 80 different species of mangrove trees. All of them grow in warm, shallow, coastal waters around the tropics. They spread their roots in sediment that is under the water, while their upper trunks, branches and leaves are above the water. The forests usually flood twice a day during high tide, according to Newsweek.
They play a crucial role in stabilizing the coastline, providing protection from storms, waves, and tidal erosion. Their root systems provide a habitat for fish and other animals, according to Newsweek. Mangrove forests work their magic by pulling freshwater from salty seawater to serve as a nursery for fish, crustaceans and shellfish. But if their roots are completely submerged for too long, the mangroves will drown.
As The Verge noted, mangrove forests are a boon to people and the planet, which is why scientists in Florida have sought to use mangroves as a defense for coastal communities from the ravages of the climate crisis. However, for mangroves to help us, we will first need to help them.
"We have an opportunity here to take action and to keep the rates of sea level rise below these critical thresholds, which is part of the reason that this is an important study," says Ashe, as The Verge reported.
To figure out just how much sea level rise was too much for the mangroves, Ashe and her colleagues, led by Neil Saintilan from Macquarie University in Australia, examined sediment core samples from 78 locations around the world. Those samples shed light on how mangroves responded to past changes in the rate of sea level rise, which went from more than 10 millimeters (0.39 inches) per year nearly 10,000 years ago to almost stable around 4,000 years later, as Newsweek reported. They discovered that mangrove ecosystems only developed when rates of sea level rise dropped below about 7 millimeters a year.
"There was good news and bad news. The good news was that mangroves were clearly capable of surviving much higher rates of sea-level rise than we have around the world at present," Saintilan told Newsweek. "There were many examples where mangroves were able to keep pace with sea-level rise of 5 millimeters per year; the current rate is just over 3 millimeters per year."
"However, there was little evidence that mangroves could keep pace with sea-level rise of over 7 millimeters per year, and this threshold was lower for mangroves on coral reef settings, which failed to keep pace with sea-level rise above 5 millimeters per year. If the rate of sea-level rise doubles, mangroves are in serious trouble," he added.
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People across New England witnessed a dramatic celestial event Sunday night.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By David Reichmuth
Over the last month, I've seen a number of opinion articles attacking electric vehicles (EVs). Sadly, this comes as no surprise: now that the Biden administration is introducing federal policies to accelerate the roll out of electric vehicles, we were bound to see a reaction from those that oppose reducing climate changing emissions and petroleum use.
The majority of EVs sold in 2020 were models with a starting price (Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price) under $40,000 and only a fifth of models had a starting price over $60,000.
On Friday, China set out an economic blueprint for the next five years, which was expected to substantiate the goal set out last fall by President Xi Jinping for the country to reach net-zero emissions before 2060 and hit peak emissions by 2030.
The Great Trail in Canada is recognized as the world's longest recreational trail for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. Created by the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) and various partners, The Great Trail consists of a series of smaller, interconnected routes that stretch from St. John's to Vancouver and even into the Yukon and Northwest Territories. It took nearly 25 years to connect the 27,000 kilometers of greenway in ways that were safe and accessible to hikers. Now, thanks to a new partnership with the Canadian Paralympic Committee and AccessNow, the TCT is increasing accessibility throughout The Great Trail for people with disabilities.
Trans Canada Trail and AccessNow partnership for AccessOutdoors / Trails for All project. Mapping day at Stanley Park Seawall in Vancouver, British Columbia with Richard Peter. Alexa Fernando<p>This partnership also comes at a time when access to outdoor recreation is more important to Canadian citizens than ever. <a href="https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/200527/dq200527b-eng.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Studies from the spring of 2020</a> indicate that Canadian's <a href="https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/moneytalk-mental-health-during-covid-19-1.1567633" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mental health has worsened</a> since the onset of social distancing protocols due to COVID-19. </p><p>The <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/safe-activities-during-covid19/art-20489385" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mayo Clinic</a> lists hiking, biking, and skiing as safe activities during COVID-19. Their website explains, "When you're outside, fresh air is constantly moving, dispersing these droplets. So you're less likely to breathe in enough of the respiratory droplets containing the virus that causes COVID-19 to become infected."</p><p>TCT leadership took this into consideration when embarking on the accessibility project. McMahon explains that there has never been a more important time to bring accessibility to the great outdoors: "Canadians have told us that during these difficult times, they value access to natural spaces to stay active, take care of their mental health, and socially connect with others while respecting physical distancing and public health directives. This partnership is incredibly important especially now as trails have become a lifeline for Canadians."</p><p>Together, these organizations are paving the way for better physical and mental health among all Canadians. To learn more about the TCT's mission and initiatives, check out their <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/stories/" target="_blank">trail stories</a> and <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/TCT_2020-Donor-Impact-Report_EN_8.5x14-web.pdf" target="_blank">2020 Impact Report</a>.</p>