Mar 15, 2017 06:01 AM EDT
A James Cook University researcher has found why there was an uncommon dieback of mangroves in the Gulf of Carpentaria in mid-2016 - the plants died of thirst. Dr. Norman Duke, a pioneer of JCU's Mangrove Research center hub, headed an investigation concerning the vast mangrove dieback. The discoveries were published in the Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research today.
The researchers used aeronautical observations and satellite mapping information of the area going back to 1972, joined with climate and weather records. Dr. Duke said they discovered three factors met up to create the extraordinary dieback of 7400 hectares of mangroves, which extended for 1000 kilometers along the Gulf coast.
"From 2011 the coastline had experienced beyond normal rainfalls, and the 2015/16 dry season was especially serious. Secondly, the temperatures in the zone were at record levels and thirdly a few mangroves were left high and dry as the ocean or sea level dropped around 20cm during a particularly extreme El Nino."
Dr. Duke says this was enough to deliver what researchers view as the biggest recorded episode of its kind, and the most terrible situation of likely climate-related dieback of mangroves ever reported. "Basically, they died of thirst," he said. Dr. Duke said researchers now realize that mangroves, similar to coral reefs, are powerless against changes in climate and strong weather conditions.
furthermore, Australia's top experts and administrators will review the incident at a devoted workshop during one week from now's Australian Mangrove and Saltmarsh Network yearly meeting in Hobart, facilitated by the University of Tasmania and CSIRO.
"The point of Australia's specialist network is to apply intelligent, creative and considered reactions, as completely expected by people in general, to enhance and spread informed understandings of the changes occurring in high-value natural resources, such Australia's coastal tidal wetland habitat," Dr. Duke said.