Literature Review on Wetlands and Climate Change

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SOUTHERN CROSS UNIVERSITIY, FACULTY OF ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE AND MANAGEMENT.

IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON AUSTRALIAN WETLAND ECOSYSTEMS

Assessment 1: BIO01204
Aisling Hall 21620531 3/29/2010

1 Aisling Hall 21620531 BIO01204

Table of Contents
IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON AUSTRALIAN WETLAND ECOSYSTEMS ........................................... 3 Abstract ........................................................................................................................................... 3 Introduction .................................................................................................................................... 3 IMPORTANCE OF WETLANDS .......................................................................................................... 4 CLIMATE CHANGE ........................................................................................................................... 6 MANAGEMENT................................................................................................................................ 7 CONCLUSION ................................................................................................................................... 8 References .............................................................................................................................................. 9

2 Aisling Hall 21620531 BIO01204

IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON AUSTRALIAN WETLAND ECOSYSTEMS
Abstract
There is little argument that our climate is changing seen in the increase of temperatures, decrease in snow cover, sea level rises and changes in precipitation intensity and distribution. Wetland ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to these changes as they rely on water flow and ground water for their functionality. In return wetlands filter water and support a high diversity and abundance of life often endemic and critical to the success of phases of certain plant and animals life cycles. Due to the diversity of wetlands their management and protection has been slow and often unsuccessful. Scientific research has raised awareness of their importance in mitigation of climate change through acting as carbon sinks and habitat for significant species, so through education and stronger state and national water management plans wetlands have the chance to continue playing a vital role in our environment. (N.Campbell 2009). Many of Australia’s Wetlands hold strong cultural and spiritual significance to Aboriginal people as they are a diverse resource that may have been used for many generations and may support certain ‘totemic’ plants and animals endemic to that small ecosystem (Department of Environment 2008). Climate Change will affect wetlands natural structure, functions and distribution through temperature rises, changes in distribution, intensity and frequency of rain, sea level rise and stronger anthropogenic pressure as our world warms (T. Walshe 2008). Since the 1950s mean temperatures in Australia have increased 0.1-0.2°C per decade with the greatest warming inland and stronger storm and floods along the coasts (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2007).

Introduction
Wetlands are an important part of Australia’s natural environment. They contain a wide diversity of life providing habit and supporting plants and animals that may be found nowhere else. Australia has more than 900 nationally important wetlands in coastal and inland locations, 65 of those are currently listed as Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance (Department of the Environment 2009). Wetlands are highly specialised ecosystems with functions that aid in nutrient cycling, act as carbon stores and improve water quality by filtering the passing water. Coastal wetlands create a barrier effect which protects surrounding environments from flooding, pollution and erosion. Both coastal and inland wetlands sustain a high abundance of plant and animal life delivering rich habitat for...
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