Influence of the 2015–2016 El Niño on the record‑breaking mangrove dieback along northern Australia coast

Abhik, Santra, Hope, Pandora, Hendon, Harry H., Hutley, Lindsay B., Johnson, Stephanie, Drosdowsky, Wasyl, Brown, Josephine R, and Duke, Norman C. (2021) Influence of the 2015–2016 El Niño on the record‑breaking mangrove dieback along northern Australia coast. Scientific Reports, 11. 20411.

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Abstract

This study investigates the underlying climate processes behind the largest recorded mangrove dieback event along the Gulf of Carpentaria coast in northern Australia in late 2015. Using satellite derived fractional canopy cover (FCC), variation of the mangrove canopies during recent decades are studied, including a severe dieback during 2015–2016. The relationship between mangrove FCC and climate conditions is examined with a focus on the possible role of the 2015–2016 El Niño in altering favorable conditions sustaining the mangroves. The mangrove FCC is shown to be coherent with the low-frequency component of sea level height (SLH) variation related to the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle in the equatorial Pacific. The SLH drop associated with the 2015–2016 El Niño is identified to be the crucial factor leading to the dieback event. A stronger SLH drop occurred during austral autumn and winter, when the SLH anomalies were about 12% stronger than the previous very strong El Niño events. The persistent SLH drop occurred in the dry season of the year when SLH was seasonally at its lowest, so potentially exposed the mangroves to unprecedented hostile conditions. The influence of other key climate factors is also discussed, and a multiple linear regression model is developed to understand the combined role of the important climate variables on the mangrove FCC variation.

Item ID: 69692
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2045-2322
Keywords: mangrove dieback; Gulf of Carpentaria; sea level; ENSO oscillations
Copyright Information: © The Author(s) 2021. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Date Deposited: 19 Oct 2021 22:47
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 30%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4101 Climate change impacts and adaptation > 410102 Ecological impacts of climate change and ecological adaptation @ 40%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410402 Environmental assessment and monitoring @ 30%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1802 Coastal and estuarine systems and management > 180201 Assessment and management of coastal and estuarine ecosystems @ 30%
28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280111 Expanding knowledge in the environmental sciences @ 30%
19 ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY, CLIMATE CHANGE AND NATURAL HAZARDS > 1901 Adaptation to climate change > 190102 Ecosystem adaptation to climate change @ 40%
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