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Mangroves and Global Sea Rise: Even More Resilient Than Thought

Jul 24, 2015 05:03 PM EDT
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Mangroves, those coastal groves of trees that winnow the tide down to a less aggressive force, are likely to perform well against sea rise, researchers from the University of Southampton in the U.K. and the Universities of Auckland and Waikato in New Zealand said in their recently published report in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society A.

In the study, researchers used leading-edge mathematical simulations to look at New Zealand mangrove data. They found that areas without mangroves generally widen from erosion, so that more water can move inward. Conversely, when soil builds up around mangroves' mesh-like roots, this reduces wave and tidal current energy, said a release.

The new information shows that mangroves can make it easier, via leaves and roots, for coastal estuaries and recesses to form channels and efficiently drain excess water out to sea. In fact, the sea bed begins to rise, increasing a few millimeters each year until the area is no longer inundated by the tide, the scientists said in the release.

"Mangroves appear to be resilient to sea level rise and are likely to be able to sustain such climatic change. The implications for the New Zealand coastline are considerable and will require new thinking in terms of sediment budgets and response to climatic changes," Associate Professor Giovanni Coco from the University of Auckland said, in the release.

Follow Catherine on Twitter at @TreesWhales

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