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New Study: Mangroves' March North Says 'Climate Change

b-cline via Flickr

According to scientists from Brown University and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, mangrove forests are moving north along most of Florida's east coast and flourishing in regions where they used to die in winter cold snaps.

Lead researcher Kyle Cavanaugh says 28 years of satellite imagery clearly show the mangroves crowding out the salt marsh along the northeast Florida coast between St. Augustine and Titusville. It's probably climate change, he says, not a decrease in average temperatures, but in the number of freezing nights.

"In the mid to late 1980, Daytona Beach was experiencing these events one to two times a year", said Cavanaugh. "But by 2010, the events were only occurring every one to three years"And, south of there, he says, those cold snaps with overnight temperatures in the mid 20s, have gone away entirely. Cavanaugh says whether the mangrove migration is truly a result of climate change or just climate variability is hard to determine, but it could be an insight to how it all works.

"To really understand what future climate change will bring, we have to understand these tipping points where an ecosystem can shift from one type to another over a relatively small change in temperature", Cavanaugh said.

And,one more conundrum: Climate change impacts are sometimes bad. Acidic oceans, Bleached coral. Cold weather forests ravaged by warm-weather beetles. In Florida it's the mangroves versus the salt marsh. Both are important environmental players...and now one threatens the other.

this is one of those cases where we don't have a good handle on whether this is good or bad for humans.