World’s Largest Mangrove Forest Is Diminishing Due to Sea-level Rise

“Advanced Land Observing Satellite Phased Array Type L-Band SAR (ALOS PALSAR) to Inform the Conservation of Mangroves: Sundarbans as a Case Study,” in Remote Sensing (2013, v5 n1 p224-237; doi:10.3390/rs5010224) / by William A. Cornforth, Temilola E. Fatoyinbo, Terri P. Freemantle and Nathalie Pettorell

[Abstract] Mangroves are an important bulkhead against climate change: they afford protection for coastal areas from tidal waves and cyclones, and are among the most carbon-rich forests in the tropics. As such, protection of mangroves is an urgent priority. This work provides some new information on patterns of degradation in the Sundarbans, the largest contiguous mangrove forest in the world, which are home to more than 35 reptile species, 120 commercial fish species, 300 bird species and 32 mammal species. Using radar imagery, we contrast and quantify the recent impacts of cyclone Sidr and anthropogenic degradation on this ecosystem. Our results, inferred from changes in radar backscatter, confirm already reported trends in coastline retreat for this region, with areas losing as much as 200 m of coast per year. They also suggest rapid changes in mangrove dynamics for Bangladesh and India, highlighting an overall decrease in mangrove health in the east side of the Sundarbans, and an overall increase in this parameter for the west side of the Sundarbans. As global environmental change takes its toll in this part of the world, more detailed, regular information on mangroves’ distribution and health is required: our study illustrates how different threats experienced by mangroves can be detected and mapped using radar-based information, to guide management action. [H/T: Climate Wire]


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