DE­FOR­ESTA­TION OF MAN­GROVES RE­LEASES MORE METHANE THAN PRE­VI­OUSLY THOUGHT

Scuba Diver Australasia + Ocean Planet - - Briefing -

A re­cent study con­ducted by uni­ver­si­ties in Aus­tralia ex­am­in­ing the man­groves in Queens­land has found that man­groves re­lease more methane than pre­vi­ously be­lieved.

Man­groves, which are dense for­est that buf­fer land and sea in many coastal ar­eas in the trop­ics, are renowned for their abil­ity to store car­bon. This se­ques­ter­ing is termed “blue car­bon”. A tract of man­groves can bury 40 times more car­bon than a sim­i­larly-sized area of rain­for­est.

How­ever, the study re­vealed that car­bon is not stored in the man­grove soil per­ma­nently, as pre­vi­ously thought. Some car­bon diox­ide is trans­formed into methane by micro­organ­isms called archea. The methane is then re­leased back into the at­mos­phere. This is sig­nif­i­cant as methane has a much big­ger warm­ing im­pact than car­bon diox­ide and the methane re­leased has the po­ten­tial to off­set how much car­bon diox­ide is stored.

Th­ese emis­sions are also ex­ac­er­bated by de­for­esta­tion, which has oc­curred at a fast rate. Be­tween 30 to 50 per­cent of man­groves have been lost to agri­cul­ture, aqua­cul­ture and in­fra­struc­ture devel­op­ment in the past half-cen­tury alone.

Re­searchers es­ti­mate that the loss of soil car­bon from de­for­esta­tion of man­groves and other coastal ecosys­tems con­trib­utes to at least three to 19 per­cent of global de­for­esta­tion-caused CO2 emis­sions in ad­di­tion to eco­nomic and ecosys­tem dam­age.

ABOVEA dry man­grove for­est in Ca Mau, Viet­nam

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