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Impact of 2004 co-seismic coastal uplift on the mangrove cover along the North Andaman Islands

Abstract

The December 2004 earthquake and the subsequent tsunami have incurred devastating impacts on vital habitats along the Indian coastal region, where few of them are irreversible. The earthquake has uplifted the northern Andaman coast, resulting in a drastic reduction of tidal water influx into the adjoining mangrove-laden mudflats. Satellite images of the period from 2003 to 2019 were used to assess the impact of coastal upliftment on the northern Andaman mangroves. Through satellite data analysis, we report a loss of 6500 ha of northern Andaman mangroves. Tidal hydrodynamics simulation under the post-earthquake scenario showed a vast area of mudflats deprived of tidal influx. This reduction in the tidal inundation has incurred a gradual and permanent mangrove area degradation. The earthquake impact on the mangroves was not spontaneous, but a gradual process, where the mangroves were intact until Mach 2006. The earthquake and the resultant coastal uplift have significantly altered the coastal geomorphology as well as the plant demography of the study area. Field visit revealed the terrestrial vegetation growth along the erstwhile mudflats, and vast areas of mangrove peat are observed, surrounded by successions of marshy and terrestrial plants. As mangroves are preferred habitat for diverse marine and terrestrial organisms and act as a vital food source and juvenile shelters for various fish species, the extensive loss of mangrove area may adversely affect a large scale biological ecosystem.

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Acknowledgments

We are grateful to Shri D.K Das, Director, Space Application Centre (SAC), Ahmedabad for approving this paper for publication. We thank Dr. Raj Kumar, Deputy Director, EPSA, SAC for his constant encouragement and support. Authors are thankful to Dr. B Gangaiah Director, ICAR-CIARI for his extensive support for the fieldwork. We also express our sincere thanks to the forest department, Andaman and Nicobar Islands in providing necessary permissions and support during the field trip.

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Correspondence to Ratheesh Ramakrishnan.

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Ramakrishnan, R., Gladston, Y., Kumar, N.L. et al. Impact of 2004 co-seismic coastal uplift on the mangrove cover along the North Andaman Islands. Reg Environ Change 20, 6 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-020-01608-7

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Keywords

  • Mangrove habitat
  • 2004 Sumatra earthquake
  • Coseismic uplift
  • Andaman Islands