JUN 05, 2020 10:56 AM PDT

The mangrove threshold with sea level rise

A new study published in the journal Science reports grim news for mangroves: until humans drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, mangroves won’t survive sea-level rise by 2050. 

The study, led by scientists from Rutgers and Macquarie University in Australia, analyzed sediment data from the last 10,000 years to evaluate mangrove survival under various climate scenarios. The researchers looked at 78 locations and determined that if sea-level rise goes over 6 mm per year, mangroves will not be able to keep up.

Photo: Pixabay

"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, from the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. "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."

The scientists say that only when sea-level rise stays below 5 mm per year (which could be the case for a low-emissions scenario), would mangroves be more likely to survive. As they note in their paper, “the rate of sea-level rise has doubled from 1.8 millimeters per year over the 20th century to ∼3.4 millimeters per year in recent years.”

Mangroves provide crucial ecosystem services to habitats and industries around the world, including stabilizing coastlines, reducing erosion from storm surges, currents, waves and tides, and acting as nurseries and shelter for fishes and other organisms. There are roughly 80 species of mangrove trees growing in tropical and subtropical areas worldwide. 

While there is the potential for mangroves forests to grow inland, coastal developments along many coastlines make it difficult for forests to adapt. Science Daily reports, “The findings stress the importance of mitigating the magnitude of rapid sea-level rise and ensuring that coastal adaptation measures allow mangroves to expand across coastal lowlands.”

Sources: Science, Science Daily

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
JUN 22, 2020
Earth & The Environment
Half of the global population is exposed to air pollution
JUN 22, 2020
Half of the global population is exposed to air pollution
A World Health Organization study published recently in the journal Climate and Atmospheric Science reports that half of ...
JUN 26, 2020
Earth & The Environment
Another 2020 plague: locusts
JUN 26, 2020
Another 2020 plague: locusts
2020 is determined to be a year to remember. On top of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the worst locust outbreak seen in o ...
JUL 27, 2020
Plants & Animals
Why Mosquitoes Have a Preference for Human Blood
JUL 27, 2020
Why Mosquitoes Have a Preference for Human Blood
There is a huge variety of mosquitoes in the world - around 3,500 species - and only a few seek humans for their blood m ...
SEP 03, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
Hemp Extract Protects Bees from Poisonous Pesticides
SEP 03, 2020
Hemp Extract Protects Bees from Poisonous Pesticides
Researchers from Curie-Skłodowska University in Poland have found that an extract from hemp may help bees to survive poi ...
SEP 08, 2020
Earth & The Environment
Huge international supply chains account for 20% of global emissions
SEP 08, 2020
Huge international supply chains account for 20% of global emissions
This may come as a surprise to exactly no one, but multinational companies are the culprits of the highest levels of car ...
SEP 18, 2020
Earth & The Environment
What does 0.5°C more mean?
SEP 18, 2020
What does 0.5°C more mean?
What is 0.5°C warmer anyway? It doesn’t sound like that much…right? Wrong. When the United Nations Fram ...
Loading Comments...