Stormwater runoff could benefit marine life

Stormwater runoff could benefit marine life

#This article is published on Make Water Famous, thanks to the Author Natasha Wiseman


Sea dwelling animals and organisms could benefit from stormwater running off land into rivers and the sea during heavy rainfall, according to the latest research from Norway.

Stormwater runoff is usually seen as bad for the environment due to the pollutants it can carry, including agricultural fertilisers and toxics residues from vehicles and roads.

However, results from a study by Juan Pardo, a PhD student in the centre for coastal research (CCR) at the University of Agder, shows runoff can be an important source of energy for organisms and animals that live along our coasts.

“In the past, we’ve heard that runoff and drainage from land is bad for the ocean,” says Pardo. “Now we see that it can also be an important resource.

“Especially [for] the animals and organisms that live entirely at the bottom of the sea, [they] get energy from waste or degradable material such as plants, animals and human activities,” he says.

“Organisms on the seabed are important for the marine ecosystem,” Pardo says. “They play an important role in the carbon cycle. They also contribute to diversity and serve as food for small fish and other prey.”

Important resource

Pardo’s research looks at the relationship between organisms that live at the bottom of the ocean and organic material from land. He shows that runoff from land is an important resource for the sea in normal weather conditions, but normal weather is constantly being challenged by extreme weather due to climate change, which can have negative consequences.

Drainage from land, in addition to floods, landslides and storms, threatens coastal ecosystems. This is closely related to climate change, he says, which results in increased drainage from land and runoff to the sea.

“Heavy rainfall and landslides affect the interaction between land and sea,” he says, highlighting how Norway is experiencing darker waters along the coast.

The study shows that organic material from land plays an important role in coastal areas, but knowledge in the field is still somewhat limited. Pardo hopes for more research and better monitoring to manage the challenges going forward.

“The study underlines the need to monitor and understand how changes in the supply of organic material affect life in the sea, especially in view of the climate changes we’re facing,” he says.

The study is based on data from all over the world, and now Pardo is seeking more data and greater cooperation from researchers in Asia.

“In the global south there are many important natural systems, and it would have been interesting to know more about how communities there are affected by runoff from land and how their way of life changes.”

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Photo Credit: Unsplash License (Avşa Adası horizon)

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