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Vulnerability of mangroves and tidal wetlands of the Great Barrier Reef to climate change

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Lovelock, CE and Ellison, JC (2007) Vulnerability of mangroves and tidal wetlands of the Great Barrier Reef to climate change. In: Climate Change and the Great Barrier Reef: A Vulnerability Assessment. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Australian Greenhouse Office, Australia, Australia, pp. 237-269.

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Abstract

Climate change will have an enormous influence on the intertidal wetlands of the Great Barrier Reef
(GBR). Increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations and associated increases in air
and sea temperatures, rising sea level, changes in oceanic circulation, rainfall patterns and frequency
and intensity of storms are highly likely to affect the physiology, ecology and ultimately the stability
of wetland habitats (Table 9.1). The intertidal position of mangroves, salt marshes and salt flats makes
them particularly vulnerable to changes in sea level, although other climate change factors will also
exert a strong influence on wetland communities (Table 9.1). Past rises in sea level have led to increases
in the area of mangroves in northern Australia186. However, past climate change has occurred with
limited human modification of the coast compared to current levels of development. Human activities
have resulted in loss of wetlands, disruption to connectivity, enhanced availability of nutrients, changed
sediment dynamics and the creation of structures that will prevent landward migration of wetlands
with sea level rise (eg roads, berms, bunds and sea walls). Many of these human impacts will reduce
the resilience of intertidal wetlands to climate change. To conserve the intertidal wetlands of the GBR
and the ecosystem services they provide, we will need to manage the coastal zone in a way that
enhances the resilience of mangroves, salt marshes and salt flats during climate change.

Item Type: Book Section
Publisher: Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Australian Greenhouse Office, Australia
Page Range: pp. 237-269
Date Deposited: 05 Nov 2007 01:42
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 03:23
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