Marshland massacre by sea rise is avoidable

The marshes of Plum Island Estuary, Massachusetts, are among those predicted by scientists to submerge during the next century under conservative projections of sea-level rise. Credit: Matthew Kirwan, USGS

The marshes of Plum Island Estuary, Massachusetts, are among those predicted by scientists to submerge during the next century under conservative projections of sea-level rise. Credit: Matthew Kirwan, USGS

If the sea rises as predicted in some of the most severe scenarios suggested by scientists, which include ice sheets melting, the world’s marshes will become largely submerged near the end of the 21st century. However, if sea rise is more moderate, such wetlands will prove more resilient than previously thought, US, Italian, Belgian and British scientists predict.

These coastal wetlands are important because they absorb energy from storms and preserve shorelines. They also support commercial seafood harvests, absorb pollutants and serve as critical habitats for migratory bird populations. “Tidal wetlands are among the most valuable ecosystems on earth,” wrote US Geological Survey and University of Virginia scientist Matt Kirwan and his colleagues in  a paper published Wednesday. Read the rest of this entry »