Rapid sea level rise could drown protective mangrove forests by 2100

Thursday, June 4, 2020 - 13:10 in Earth & Climate

Mangrove forests can only take so much. The famously resilient, salt-tolerant and twisty trees have so far managed to keep pace with rising sea levels, providing a valuable buffer to coastal communities against pounding storm surges. Now, researchers have found the forests’ limit.  Mangroves cannot survive in seas rising faster than about 7 millimeters per year, the scientists report in the June 5 Science.  Sea levels are rising globally at an average rate of about 3.4 millimeters per year, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (SN: 9/25/19). But over the next few decades, that rate is projected to accelerate to between 5 millimeters per year and 10 millimeters per year by 2100, scientists say. That could drown the forests, which act as a buffer protecting many coastlines around the globe by reducing erosion from tides and dampening the energy of storm waves sweeping ashore. And mangroves come with additional boons, says Neil Saintilan, a biogeographer at Macquarie University in Sydney....

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