The Thane creek, designated as an Important Bird Area (IBA), will be impacted with a sea-level rise of 0.5 to 1m, states a study published in the Journal of Threatened Taxa in May.
The study conducted by a four-member international team of scientists revealed that an estimated 13,973sqkm of land in coastal areas will be lost across the country because of intrusion of sea water.
Major causes of rising sea levels include thermal expansion of the ocean, mountain glacier melting, and discharge of ice from ice sheets.
“The Thane creek is an important site declared as IBA by the global agency. This along with Sewri mudflats is a stopover site that supports large number of flamingos and other wading birds that congregate in large numbers during winter.
If we lose such a site, most birds will find another route,” M Zafar-ul Islam, lead investigator and research coordinator, National Wildlife Research Centre at Saudi Arabia, told HT in a telephonic interview.
Using projections of sea level rise of 0.5 to 1m by the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change in 2007 and 6m based on other studies, the research states that coastal areas will be most impacted followed by islands.
While coasts are predicted to undergo 12% and 56% inundation under 1m and 6m sealevel rise scenarios respectively, it will be 18% and 23% flooding for islands.
Also, 73sqkm of the 1,32,141sq km of the Western Ghats will be affected by a 1-m sea rise and 419sqkm by a 6-m rise.
“Rising sea levels and associated marine intrusion into terrestrial environments are expected to be among the most serious consequences of climate change. Projected estimates of 1-6 m rise of sea levels are likely to have catastrophic consequences for biodiversity and humans,” stated the paper.
The study stated that the Sewri mudflats would be affected with a 6m rise in sea level. “The mudflats are a combination of mangroves and support coastal biodiversity. The overall ecosystem will get disturbed with seawater intrusion,” said Islam.