Sea level rise is affecting a wide range of ecosystems, from forested wetland to farmland. As salty water pushes farther inland, with the help of humanmade structures such canals, ditches, and tide gates, trees die and farmland floods, allowing marshy reed species to move in. Forests can shift farther inland but as they do, they will eventually encounter towns, cities, and other communities that prevent their further migration. Click on the circles below to learn more about what happens to these ecosystems as sea levels rise.
Salt Kills Trees from the Roots Up
Most trees are extremely sensitive to salt, from the roots, which struggle to take up water from salty soils, to the trunk, branches, and leaves, where high concentrations of salt ions hinder plants’ cellular processes.
© KERRY HYNDMAN
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Ashley Yeager is an associate editor at The Scientist. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.