Humans Converted 250,000 Acres Of Estuaries To Cities And Farms In 35 Years

"Worldwide over the past 35 years, dams and land reclamation activities have converted 250,000 acres of estuary — an area roughly 17 times the size of Manhattan — to urban land or agricultural fields, with most land conversion and estuary loss in rapidly developing countries, a new study finds. The findings could help developing countries avoid problems faced by countries that have already lost or degraded their estuaries.

The study is published in the journal Earth's Future.

Estuaries—wetland ecosystems where freshwater rivers meet saline ocean waters—are gateways connecting land and sea. They provide habitat for wildlife, sequester carbon, and serve as hubs for transport and shipping. People have been molding estuaries to fit their needs for thousands of years, and now, some countries are paying the price. Estuary degradation and loss can lower water quality, shrink and fragment critical habitats, and remove coastlines' protection from storms."

Rebecca Dzombak reports for the American Geophysical Union April 9, 2024.

Source: AGU, 04/10/2024