Issue 7
Monday, 09 May 2016
Charles Darwin University
CDU researcher Madeline Goddard. Photographer: Aaron Burton
CDU researcher Madeline Goddard. Photographer: Aaron Burton

Darwin Harbour mangroves ‘resisting sea level rise’

By Katie Weiss

A Charles Darwin University researcher will explore how sea level rise and other factors might impact on Darwin Harbour’s mangrove forests.

Madeline Goddard said her research would aim to determine how the harbour’s 20,000 hectare mangrove estate might adapt and survive rapid environmental change.

Ms Goddard said she planned to apply to undertake a PhD with RIEL later this year, which would build on her CDU Honours research in measuring sedimentation of Darwin Harbour’s mangrove forests.

“We have an incredible and relatively intact mangrove estate that supports many fish species and general harbour health, and want to ensure that they stay in such excellent condition into the future,” she said. 

Ms Goddard said the mangroves appeared to have maintained their elevation despite the substantial rise in the harbour’s mean sea level by an average of 8.3 mm per year, among the highest in the world.

“The Darwin Harbour mangroves so far seem resilient and are keeping pace with sea level rise by increasing sediment to stay above water,” she said.

“But it is a race, and if the rate in sea level rise increases faster than the mangroves can keep pace then they could drown.”

More than 40 per cent of Australia’s mangrove communities are found in the NT, and 36 different species live in Darwin Harbour.