High-resolution mapping of losses and gains of Earth's tidal wetlands

Science. 2022 May 13;376(6594):744-749. doi: 10.1126/science.abm9583. Epub 2022 May 12.


Tidal wetlands are expected to respond dynamically to global environmental change, but the extent to which wetland losses have been offset by gains remains poorly understood. We developed a global analysis of satellite data to simultaneously monitor change in three highly interconnected intertidal ecosystem types-tidal flats, tidal marshes, and mangroves-from 1999 to 2019. Globally, 13,700 square kilometers of tidal wetlands have been lost, but these have been substantially offset by gains of 9700 km2, leading to a net change of -4000 km2 over two decades. We found that 27% of these losses and gains were associated with direct human activities such as conversion to agriculture and restoration of lost wetlands. All other changes were attributed to indirect drivers, including the effects of coastal processes and climate change.

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture
  • Climate Change
  • Geographic Mapping
  • Humans
  • Wetlands*