(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists at Macquarie University, Sydney have shown that the growth of mangrove forests depends on the long-term wobble of the moon.
Mangrove forests growing in the high tide are one of the largest ecosystems that accumulate and store atmospheric carbon for millennia. The conservation of mangroves is essential to slowing down global warming.
Mangroves are unique ecosystems. They are widely distributed in tropical and equatorial climatic zones. Mangroves grow along gently sloping seashores in the tidal zone.
The flatter the coast, the higher the tide, the wider the strip of mangrove forests. Sometimes mangroves cover thousands of square kilometers.
They are able to survive in salt water, which periodically floods them. Mangroves have vertical roots that provide them with air. No other trees can live in such conditions.
Mangrove ecosystems store atmospheric carbon. Under them are multi-meter layers of peat. The uniqueness of mangrove peatlands is that they store carbon for many millennia.
These peatlands are under water for a long time due to the tides, and fungi that break down carbon compounds cannot survive without oxygen.
Studies have shown that mangrove peatlands can store carbon for 5,000 years. Mangrove forests, by accumulating carbon, curb global warming. Therefore, they attract the close attention of scientists.
As researchers from Macquarie University found out , the growth of mangrove forests in Sydney depends on the moon.
Mangroves cannot grow unless the tide floods them. And the tides are mainly subject to the position and movement of the moon. (The tides also depend on the Sun, but the Moon influences much more).
Mangroves and Moon
The motion of the Moon is very complex, because it depends on the Earth, and on the Sun, and on the oscillations of the Moon itself.
Tides are affected by both the daily rotation of the Earth and the monthly rotation of the Moon around the Earth. But there is also a long-term cycle – the movement of the lunar nodes , which is approximately 19 years.
Scientists have shown how 19-year cycles affect the growth of mangrove forests. It turned out that they have a very significant effect. This effect has not been studied before.
Scientists examined satellite images of mangrove forests and showed that fluctuations in mangrove cover coincide with long-term fluctuations in the lunar nodes.
Mangrove forests have always been a source of timber. The most intensively cut down were the most vulnerable boundary areas of the ecosystem, the most distant from the coast. There is little water.
Therefore, it is convenient to cut down the forest. If the forest is not cut down, then the mangroves can survive the drought caused by the long-term movement of the moon.
But if the forest is cut down, the mangroves are no longer restored. The ecosystem is shrinking. The decomposition of peat begins. The accumulated carbon is returned to the atmosphere.
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