Measuring methane emissions from a forest of dead mangroves in the Gulf of Carpentaria
Original Published Date: 
Friday, July 5, 2019

Full article issued by Southern Cross University.

In a world first, ARC supported researchers from Southern Cross University have found that mangrove forests which died along a 1000 kilometre stretch of coastline in northern Australia’s Gulf of Carpentaria have released significant amounts of the potent greenhouse gas methane.  

The unprecedented dieback of 7400 hectares of mangrove forest occurred during 2015–2016, and was caused by climatic extremes. Due to the unique nature of the dieback event, the researchers were able to compare methane tree-stem emissions from living mangroves with those from the dead mangrove forests, to understand what happens when climatic-change stressors result in forest mortality.

The results, published in a leading international journal New Phytologist, revealed that while living mangroves emit some methane, dead mangroves emit about eight times more. This has significant implications for greenhouse gas emissions from these valuable coastal habitats. The research was led by PhD candidate Luke Jeffrey, and supported by grants to ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award recipient, Associate Professor Damien Maher.

Photo credit: 

The research team measuring methane emissions from a forest of dead mangroves in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Credit: Southern Cross University.