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Urgent need to study the impacts of biomass burning and haze on marine ecosystems
Date:3/7/2014

Researchers are highlighting the urgent need to understand impacts of biomass burning and haze on Southeast Asian marine ecosystems in a paper published in the journal Global Change Biology on 6 March 2014. The scientists also proposed a coordinated response plan for a more effective management of these vital ecosystems.

The unprecedented high levels of transboundary haze in Southeast Asia last year prompted Dr Zeehan Jaafar, a lecturer at the Department of Biological Sciences at the National University of Singapore Faculty of Science, and Dr Tse-Lynn Loh, a postdoctoral research associate at the Daniel P. Haerther Center for Conservation and Research, John G. Shedd Aquarium (Chicago, USA), to critically evaluate the potential impacts of biomass burning and haze to marine ecosystems.

In the paper, Dr Jaafar and Dr Loh call upon scientific institutions, non-governmental agencies, government bodies and policy-makers in the region to recognize the importance of the haze as an additional stressor to marine environments. In addition, they proposed a coordinated regional response plan for monitoring and studying the impacts of burning and haze to marine ecosystems. The researchers suggest that gathering this critical baseline information will enable a more effective management of vital marine ecosystems in Southeast Asia, and provide a case study to better understand similar occurrences in other locations around the world.

Crop residue and forests are burnt in many tropical countries to clear land for agriculture. In Indonesia, annual biomass burning activities cause a widespread smoke-haze phenomenon that affects human health, quality of life and incomes locally and in neighboring countries. While the impacts of these large-scale burning on terrestrial and atmospheric habitats are immediate and obvious, little is known about how adjacent coastal ecosystems such as coral reefs, seagrass and mangroves are affected.

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Contact: Kimberley Wang
kimberley.wang@nus.edu.sg
National University of Singapore
Source:Eurekalert

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