Rising seas may hasten Florida’s mangrove loss

Jim Foot Key in Everglades National Park island has lost many mangroves. Water from Florida Bay now covers its interior mudflats. ©B. Stackhouse/USGS

Development and sea level rise has caused Florida to lose much of the mangrove forests that once lined its coasts, according to a recent U.S. Geological Survey study published in Nature Communications. Researchers say current rates of sea level rise, combined with increasing climate variability, could accelerate the losses. “A warmer climate could not only result in higher sea levels, but it could also lead to more intense droughts and storms and possibly increase the rate of mangrove loss,” said USGS research geologist Miriam Jones, the study’s lead author. “This is particularly true if these stresses are prolonged or repeated.” Mangroves act as buffers against storm surges and rising seas, and they serve as nesting sites for birds and provide resources for wildlife. Researchers say the findings should help managers understand whether these landscapes can be maintained as the climate changes and sea levels rise, and how water management may mitigate the impacts.

Read more from the USGS here.