Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Could better mangrove habitats have spared lives in the 2004 tsunami?

22.06.2005


Accounts of the tsunami that killed over a quarter of a million people in Southeast Asia on the 26th of December, 2004, slowly disappear from the media, but the event is nevertheless heavily burned into the memories of those who are directly involved. In the aftermath of the disaster, academics and politicians alike are trying to investigate how the number of casualties could have been reduced and, more important, how such severe damage can be avoided if a tsunami ever strikes again. In an essay published this week in the June 21 issue of Current Biology, a group of researchers recount the first findings arising from their recent assessment of how mangrove ecosystems might have influenced the tsunami’s impacts on coastal communities.


Credit: Farid Dahdouh-Guebas



The research represents a collaborative effort, with participants from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium; the University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka; the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute; and the Institut Français de Pondichéry, India.

Mangrove greenbelts were known to offer some protection against destructive ocean events, such as tsunamis and (far more frequently) tropical cyclones, but they have not always been valued for that function. Economic and political interference, driven by short-term benefit, has been responsible for the destruction of thousands of hectares of mangrove forest (e.g., in East Africa, on the Indian subcontinent, and in Banda Aceh, Indonesia), resulting in the loss of the natural, protective "dyke" function of mangroves in addition to the loss of other services that mangroves provide to local economies and ecosystems. Although many politicians, journalists, and scientists have made post-tsunami statements about the barrier function of mangroves, most have failed to recognize that this function has never actually been investigated in detail.


In their essay, the authors present an account of the first post-tsunami field assessment they’ve undertaken, in Sri Lanka. The researchers investigated the impact of the tsunami at 24 different mangrove sites, comparing the event’s effects to the size, history, and quality of the local mangroves. The researchers found that where mangroves occur, they did in fact offer protection from the tsunami. Mangrove fringes near the water’s edge appeared to take most of the energy from the tsunami waves, and they showed evidence of damage in some cases, but the researchers found few examples of mangrove trees actually being uprooted.

However, mangroves at numerous sites had experienced pre-tsunami degradation. This disruption, resulting from human impact, included "cryptic ecological degradation" (see also Current Biology, March 29, 2005), which involves subtle changes in species composition. From their assessments of the 24 coastal sites, the researchers concluded that even these seemingly minor alterations, which do not necessarily involve a reduction in mangrove area, have had a profound impact on the damage that the 2004 tsunami inflicted on the coastal zone. This puts the drastic clearing of mangroves, and the conversion of mangrove habitats to shrimp farms in other areas, into even starker perspective.

The authors highlight the urgent need for a union between management-driven research (research that specifically focuses on environmental aspects that need to be managed) and research-driven management (management that is based on facts from scientific research). The team emphasizes that an early-warning system for mangrove degradation should be seen as being as important for future protection as are early-warning systems for tsunami arrivals; the authors contend that if put in place, such ecological warning systems, along with the restoration of mangroves and other natural defenses, could be more effective in saving human lives and property.

Heidi Hardman | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.current-biology.com

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Value from wastewater
16.08.2017 | Hochschule Landshut

nachricht Species Richness – a false friend? Scientists want to improve biodiversity assessments
01.08.2017 | Carl von Ossietzky-Universität Oldenburg

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>