Sundarbans tigers and sea level rise

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    From WWF news release:

    One of the world’s largest tiger populations could disappear by the end of this century as rising sea levels caused by climate change destroy their habitat along the coast of Bangladesh in an area known as the Sundarbans, according to a new WWF-led study published in the journal Climatic Change.

    Tigers are among the world’s most threatened species, with only an estimated 3,200 remaining in the wild. WWF officials said the threats facing these Royal Bengal tigers and other iconic species around the world highlight the need for urgent international action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    “If we don’t take steps to address the impacts of climate change on the Sundarbans, the only way its tigers will survive this century is with scuba gear,” said Colby Loucks, WWF-US deputy director of conservation science and the lead author of the study Sea Level Rise and Tigers: Predicted Impacts to Bangladesh’s Sundarbans Mangroves. “Tigers are a highly adaptable species, thriving from the snowy forests of Russia to the tropical forests of Indonesia.

    “The projected sea level rise in the Sundarbans will likely outpace the tiger’s ability to adapt.”

    An expected sea level rise of 28 cm above 2000 levels may cause the remaining tiger habitat in the Sundarbans to decline by 96 percent, pushing the total population to fewer than 20 breeding tigers, according to the study.

    Action on climate change needed to save the Sundarbans

    Unless immediate action is taken, the Sundarbans, its wildlife and the natural resources that sustain millions of people may disappear within 50 to 90 years, the study states.

    “The mangrove forest of the Bengal tiger now joins the sea-ice of the polar bear as one of the habitats most immediately threatened as global temperatures rise during the course of this century,” said Keya Chatterjee, acting director of the WWF-US climate change program. “To avert an ecological catastrophe on a much larger scale, we must sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change we failed to avoid.”

    Climate change could drown out Sundarbans tigers – study

    There’s link from the press release page to the Climate Change paper, which I’ve downloaded and read. This seems far too simplistic; notes that there is evidence that siltation is leading to increasing land along Bangladesh coast, including Sundarbans, yet blithely ignores this in projecting future scenarios. There are some fancy looking maps to indicate how Sundarbans may look in near future – with smaller and smaller patches of land. But, siltation would complicate this picture. Indeed, an Associated Press article includes:

    Aminul Islam, a Bangladeshi tiger expert, said studies suggested a sea-level rise was likely, but remained hopeful the tigers still could be saved as the deposit of silt in the delta region of the Sundarbans could compensate for the rising water.

    "Different water modeling studies suggest that the issue of sea-level rise is a reality, and may affect the ecosystem of the Sundarbans," Islam said. "But I am also optimistic. … If the rate of siltration is higher than the pace of sea-level rise, things would be different."

    Study: Rising Seas Threaten Bangladesh Tigers

    I’ve posted the following to WWF discussion:

    Interesting to see article asserting Sundarbans  tigers may soon be doomed by rising sea levels.

    I went in October; learned the area is indeed boxed between sea and land (where there’s now agriculture etc)

    But also, saw first hand effects of very high siltation levels – walked on Egg Island, which appeared around a decade ago, now densely forested.

    Ignoring siltation in scenarios seems silly, including as this too liable to change w climate change; maybe makes article too gloomy – blackwashing? Hence, open to criticism, when more nuanced view surely appropriate.

    Worth noting that climate change naysayers are prone to pounce on any sloppiness regarding climate change science – never mind that they just love climate change lies and hysteria. Indeed, we recently had "Climategate", then even worse revelation that an IPCC assertion re when Himalayan glaciers will disappear was based on a WWF report that was based on almost nothing at all.

    Making issues black and white may seem hugely tempting, but it can be better to acknowledge and reflect some of the complexity, and find a way of presenting issues so still attract attention.

    As to the island I mentioned walking on: it’s Egg Island, in southeast Sundarbans; 10 years ago it was little but silt, with nesting birds leading to fishermen giving it the name – now forested, and the nesting terns etc perhaps gone. Shot of it below. I’ve also read of islands on Indian side (west) of Sundarbans disappearing: helping show situation there is indeed complex, fluid. I learned of mangrove trees dying of "top down" disease, maybe as result of rising sea levels. Believe Sundarbans indeed threatened, and with no link to forest inland, once species are lost it will be hard or impossible to replace them.

    egg island sundarbans

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