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Rising sea levels could prove fatal for mangroves

Date: 06 June 2020 Tags: Climate Change

Issue

Mangrove forests aren’t moving fast enough to escape rising sea levels and could disappear by 2050, according to new research. That’s because these forests won’t be able to keep up with rising sea levels if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated.

 

Background

The mangrove trees play a vital role in storing planet-heating carbon dioxide and protecting communities from storms and coastal erosion.

 

Details

  • Mangrove forests will be in danger of dying out when sea levels rise by more than 6 mm per year. That threshold could be reached in as little as 30 years, if people don’t cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Sea levels are already rising globally at a rate of more than 3 mm a year — although some places are already seeing even more drastic change.

  • Mangrove trees do a lot of good for people and the planet. Restoring mangrove forests is one way to defend coastal communities from the ravages of climate change.

  • The trees create a barrier against destructive storm surges, stop encroaching seas from gobbling up more land, and give shelter to wildlife. On top of that, mangrove forests are even better at keeping carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere than rainforests of the same size.

  • One-fifth of the world’s mangroves already perished between 1980 and 2010. The trees can usually adapt to rising water by moving inland, but human development along coastlines now blocks their way. 

  • To figure out how much sea level rise is too much for mangroves to survive, researchers studied sediment cores from 78 locations across the globe. That revealed data on mangrove growth over the past 10,000 years. 

  • They found that mangrove ecosystems only developed when rates of sea-level rise dropped below about 7 mm a year.

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