Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Mangroves Threatened by Sea Level Rise Could Disappear by 2050

Climate
Mangroves Threatened by Sea Level Rise Could Disappear by 2050
Residents plant mangroves on the coast of West Aceh District in Indonesia on Feb. 21, 2020. Mangroves play a crucial role in stabilizing the coastline, providing protection from storms, waves and tidal erosion. Dekyon Eon / Opn Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

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.

People across New England witnessed a dramatic celestial event Sunday night.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Visitors look at a Volkswagen ID.4 electric car at the Autostadt promotional facility next to the Volkswagen factory on Oct. 26, 2020 in Wolfsburg, Germany. Sean Gallup / Getty Images

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.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A woman walks along The Embarcadero under an orange smoke-filled sky in San Francisco, California on September 9, 2020. Brittany Hosea-Small / AFP / Getty Images

Smoke from wildfires may be more harmful to public health than other sources of particulate matter air pollution, according to a new study.

Read More Show Less
China's new five-year plan could allow further expansion of its coal industry. chuyu / iStock / Getty Images Plus

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.

Read More Show Less
Trans Canada Trail and AccessNow partnership for AccessOutdoors / Trails for All project. Mapping day on Capital Pathway in Ottawa, Ontario with Camille Bérubé. Daniel Baylis

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.

Read More Show Less