Dina Rasquinha, doctoral candidate in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences’ geography department, discussed her new research into mangrove health with Phys.org.
Mangroves are a type of tree that grow along shorelines and coastlines in many tropical climates. They act as storm barriers, fish sanctuaries and water filtration units for the coastal ecosystems.
Rasquinha has been looking into how cyclones and other weather events might impact mangrove forest health.
“Cyclones and storm events in the last two decades show a net positive effect on long-term mangrove carbon assimilation abilities across the Indian subcontinent,” she said.
This means that storms are helping mangroves to take in more carbon from the atmosphere, and this can be explained by storms bringing in more nutrients to the trees to help them grow.
“Storm-induced nutrient fluxes and freshwater supply play a crucial role in influencing productivity gradients in mangroves,” Rasquinha explained.
While the research shows a positive effect of the storms so far, there is a chance that increased storm severity might prevent the benefits from being maintained.
“With increasing intensity of storms in the last few years, the likelihood of this trend continuing needs further research,” said Rasquinha.