Sea level rise could make plants bigger. Then it could kill them.


Larger plants may be the first sign sea levels are rising in the Everglades, according to an FIU study.

Beneath the surface, however, the roots of these now larger, moderately salt-tolerant plants like sawgrasses will begin to wither and die if the water gets too salty. If there’s no time for mangroves or other plants to take hold, the soil could be lost. More saltwater could rush in over time.

To slow this effect, more freshwater should be released into the Everglades, according to the two-year study.

“There is a lot that can be done,” said lead author Ben Wilson, of the Southeast Environmental Research Center. “We’ve been making progress to bring more freshwater to the Everglades by putting parts of Tamiami Trail on bridges and building a new reservoir to store and then send clean water south. We need more measures like these that can improve freshwater flow from north to south. It’s what’s pushing back the saltwater.”

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