Mangrove forests and sea level rise

Professor Catherine Ellen Lovelock

School of Biological Sciences,
The University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD 4072.
Tel :    07 3356 2304
Fax :       07 3365 5755
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Increases in sea level pose a threat to mangrove forests and other coastal ecosystems. Rising sea levels may result in losses of mangroves on seaward fringes. On seaward fringes they occur low in the intertidal zone and their tolerance of inundation may be exceeded. Additionally, with increasing tidal inundation of adjoining ecosystems, expansion of forests into adjacent ecosystems (e.g. salt marshes) is also anticipated. Barriers to migration, both human and natural, will result in coastal “squeeze” where the area of forest is reduced. Although the projections for losses of mangroves with sea level rise are often high, mangrove ecosystems may “keep pace” with rising sea levels through increasing soil volume. The rate of sea level rise, coastal geomophology, sediment availability, plant productivity and human management of the coast all have critical roles in determining the fate of mangroves with sea level rise.

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