Mangrove Forests Could Combat Tsunamis

WASHINGTON, July 12 (UPI) — Coastal mangrove forests could substantially reduce the damage from tsunamis like the 2004 disaster that struck Indonesia, researchers say.

A study of an Indonesian coastline ravaged by the December 2004 tsunami has estimated the buffering capacity of intact mangrove forests, which could protect homes and buildings, reported Friday.

Forests of mangroves, with their dense, broad networks of thick roots that prop up the trees’ trunks, can absorb the coast-battering energy in tsunamis of various heights, the study says.

Shunichi Koshimura, a civil engineer at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan, and his colleagues estimate that a 500-yard-wide forest of 10-year-old mangroves would reduce the force of flowing water in a 10-foot tsunami by 70 percent.

“Mangroves make an effective bioshield against tsunamis,” Koshimura said. “It is not possible to build concrete walls along all the coasts,” he said.

They reported their findings in the Journal of Geophysical Research–Oceans.

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