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      Mangrove dieback during fluctuating sea levels

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          Abstract

          Recent evidence indicates that climate change and intensification of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) has increased variation in sea level. Although widespread impacts on intertidal ecosystems are anticipated to arise from the sea level seesaw associated with climate change, none have yet been demonstrated. Intertidal ecosystems, including mangrove forests are among those ecosystems that are highly vulnerable to sea level rise, but they may also be vulnerable to sea level variability and extreme low sea level events. During 16 years of monitoring of a mangrove forest in Mangrove Bay in north Western Australia, we documented two forest dieback events, the most recent one being coincident with the large-scale dieback of mangroves in the Gulf of Carpentaria in northern Australia. Diebacks in Mangrove Bay were coincident with periods of very low sea level, which were associated with increased soil salinization of 20–30% above pre-event levels, leading to canopy loss, reduced Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and reduced recruitment. Our study indicates that an intensification of ENSO will have negative effects on some mangrove forests in parts of the Indo-Pacific that will exacerbate other pressures.

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          The vulnerability of Indo-Pacific mangrove forests to sea-level rise.

          Sea-level rise can threaten the long-term sustainability of coastal communities and valuable ecosystems such as coral reefs, salt marshes and mangroves. Mangrove forests have the capacity to keep pace with sea-level rise and to avoid inundation through vertical accretion of sediments, which allows them to maintain wetland soil elevations suitable for plant growth. The Indo-Pacific region holds most of the world's mangrove forests, but sediment delivery in this region is declining, owing to anthropogenic activities such as damming of rivers. This decline is of particular concern because the Indo-Pacific region is expected to have variable, but high, rates of future sea-level rise. Here we analyse recent trends in mangrove surface elevation changes across the Indo-Pacific region using data from a network of surface elevation table instruments. We find that sediment availability can enable mangrove forests to maintain rates of soil-surface elevation gain that match or exceed that of sea-level rise, but for 69 per cent of our study sites the current rate of sea-level rise exceeded the soil surface elevation gain. We also present a model based on our field data, which suggests that mangrove forests at sites with low tidal range and low sediment supply could be submerged as early as 2070.
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            Ecophysiology of mangroves

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              Causes for contemporary regional sea level changes.

              Regional sea level changes can deviate substantially from those of the global mean, can vary on a broad range of timescales, and in some regions can even lead to a reversal of long-term global mean sea level trends. The underlying causes are associated with dynamic variations in the ocean circulation as part of climate modes of variability and with an isostatic adjustment of Earth's crust to past and ongoing changes in polar ice masses and continental water storage. Relative to the coastline, sea level is also affected by processes such as earthquakes and anthropogenically induced subsidence. Present-day regional sea level changes appear to be caused primarily by natural climate variability. However, the imprint of anthropogenic effects on regional sea level-whether due to changes in the atmospheric forcing or to mass variations in the system-will grow with time as climate change progresses, and toward the end of the twenty-first century, regional sea level patterns will be a superposition of climate variability modes and natural and anthropogenically induced static sea level patterns. Attribution and predictions of ongoing and future sea level changes require an expanded and sustained climate observing system.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                c.lovelock@uq.edu.au
                Journal
                Sci Rep
                Sci Rep
                Scientific Reports
                Nature Publishing Group UK (London )
                2045-2322
                10 May 2017
                10 May 2017
                2017
                : 7
                : 1680
                Affiliations
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0000 9320 7537, GRID grid.1003.2, , School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland, ; St Lucia, Queensland, 4072 Australia
                [2 ]ISNI 0000 0000 8612 0361, GRID grid.419533.9, , Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, ; Edgewater, Maryland 21037 USA
                [3 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1936 7857, GRID grid.1002.3, , School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment, Monash University, ; Clayton, Victoria 3800 Australia
                [4 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1936 7910, GRID grid.1012.2, , School of Earth and Environment Sciences, Oceans Institute, University of Western Australia, ; Crawley, Western Australia 6009 Australia
                [5 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2180 7477, GRID grid.1001.0, , Research School of Biology, The Australian National University, ; Acton, Australian Capital Territory 2601 Australia
                Article
                1927
                10.1038/s41598-017-01927-6
                5431776
                28490782
                e9b64c46-17cb-4ea0-b0b8-387bd1ff33b7
                © The Author(s) 2017

                Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

                History
                : 1 December 2016
                : 4 April 2017
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