Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 21, Issue 5, pp 1289–1307 | Cite as

Climate change impacts on Indian Sunderbans: a time series analysis (1924–2008)

  • Atanu Raha
  • Susmita Das
  • Kakoli BanerjeeEmail author
  • Abhijit Mitra
Original Paper


Climate change induced sea level rise (SLR) added with anthropogenically altered environment leads to rapid land dynamics in terms of erosion and accretion; and alteration in species diversity and productivity, more pronouncedly in sensitive ecosystems such as river deltas. Here, we tried to analyze the historical records to understand the SLR with respect to hydrological conditions, sedimentation and morphological processes. We analyzed the land transformation of few islands in Indian Sunderbans using maps and satellite images in increasing order of temporal frequency between 1924 and 2008, which revealed that both the erosion and accretion processes go hand in hand. Increase of downstream salinity due obstruction in upstream has led to decrease in transparency of water causing decrease in phytoplankton and fish, density and diversity in the central sector of Indian Sunderbans. Analysis of the above ground biomass of three dominant mangrove species (Sonneratia apetala, Avicennia alba and Excoecaria agallocha) revealed better growth in the western sector compared to the central sector. The study reveals the cumulative effect of climate change and anthropogenic disturbance on the diversity and productivity in World’s largest ecosystem; and advocates mangrove plantation and effective management of freshwater resources for conservation of the most vulnerable and sensitive ecosystem.


Climate change Indian Sunderbans Mangrove Phytoplankton Land dynamics 



Anno domini


Above ground biomass


Analysis of variance


Advanced wide field sensor


Directorate of Land Records and Surveys


False colour composite


Geographic information system


International Panel for Climate Change


Indian remote sensing satellite


Linear imaging self-scanning sensors

t ha−1

Tons per hectare


United Nations Environmental Programme


United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organisation


World Wide Fund for Nature



The authors acknowledge the Global Land Cover Facility (GLCF) website ( for providing the Landsat MSS and TM data for the year 1975 and 1989.

Supplementary material

10531_2012_260_MOESM1_ESM.ppt (9 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (PPT 9206 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Atanu Raha
    • 1
  • Susmita Das
    • 1
  • Kakoli Banerjee
    • 3
    Email author
  • Abhijit Mitra
    • 2
  1. 1.Office of the Principal Chief Conservator of ForestsKolkataIndia
  2. 2.Department of Marine ScienceUniversity of CalcuttaKolkataIndia
  3. 3.School of Biodiversity and Conservation of Natural ResourcesCentral University of OrissaKoraputIndia

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