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Global Warming News: Mangrove Trees Protect Cuba, Florida From Rising Sea Levels Caused by Climate Change

First Posted: Jul 28, 2014 12:36 PM EDT
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Both Cuba and Florida have turned to the use of mangrove trees to protect the areas from climate change.

According to Fox News Latino, the two areas are susceptible to damage from hurricanes and storm surges. Coastal erosion is also a threat to the two lands as a result of rising sea levels due to global warming.

Help has been found in mangrove trees, whose forests "stabilize the coastline, reducing erosion from storm surges, currents, waves, and tides," according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.

"Mangroves are some of the best protection you can have," Michael DelCharco, a consulting engineer working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said in an interview with KeysInfoNet.

Mangroves have a "dense tangle of prop roots," according to NOAA. A lot of these roots are above the ground, below sea level. Therefore, the roots trap sediment from saltwater and help "break up waves," FNL reported.

Mangrove trees in Cuba represent about 69 percent of the population in the Caribbean, according to Environmental Defense Fund data cited by The Associated Press. The country has advanced efforts to protect the forests, which have suffered from neglect and unregulated logging. During the latter half of 2013, a moratorium passed on logging. In addition, President Raul Castro has prioritized a sustainable management master plan on the issue. Details about the plan have not yet been revealed.

"The situation is bad," Reynier Samon, a Cuban government scientist, said. "More than 30 percent of the mangroves are in a critical state."

"If the mangroves are restored, the mitigation of these effects will be notable," Efrain Arrazcaeta, who is in charge of a Cuban environmental nonprofit, said.

Florida also has an abundance of mangrove trees, especially in the Keys, just 90 miles from Cuba. The trees' growth has gone uninhibited, simultaneously protecting and angering some residents who wish to see the ocean, FNL reports. According to a Smithsonian Environmental Research Center report titled "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences," the rapid growth is due to increases in water and air temperatures.

"The expansion isn't happening in a vacuum," Kyle Cavanaugh, a Smithsonian postdoctoral researcher and the study's lead author, said in a statement. "The mangroves are expanding into and invading salt marsh, which also provides an important habitat for a variety of species."

Follow Scharon Harding on Twitter: @ScharHar.

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