Buffering the rising tide: Mangrove sediment response to accelerating sea level rise in northern Australia

Project: HDR ProjectPhD

Project Details

Description

Mangrove ecosystems provide a wide range of ecosystem services including the sequestration of large amounts of carbon yet are considered one of the most threatened tropical ecosystems. Darwin Harbour has over 20, 000ha of mangroves in near pristine condition providing valuable ecosystem services to the community of greater Darwin. Globally sea level rise is predicted to threaten coastal wetlands and the ecosystem services they provide. Mangroves have some capacity to adapt by keeping pace with SLR and avoiding inundation via above (sedimentation) and below ground (root growth) vertical elevation gains. Macro-tidal mangroves, as found in Darwin Harbour are considered more resilient to SLR than meso- and micro-tidal counterparts, although this assertion has rarely been tested. The effect of SLR on surface elevation gains of mangroves is complex because of the interacting environmental factors such as alteration in hydrology and sediment availability due to climate change (impacts from altered rainfall, wind and wave action from variations in monsoon strength), catchment land use change, industrialisation and urbanisation. My PhD research established a long-term monitoring program of mangrove surface elevation to determine the impacts of SLR and anthropogenic pressures to inform the management of Darwin Harbour’s mangroves. Variable elevation changes, across a tidal and floristic composition gradient. These contemporary surface elevation processes are placed in a longer-term context with radioisotope dates providing historic sedimentation rates.
StatusActive
Effective start/end date1/03/16 → …