Five Solomon Islands Disappeared Due To Rising Sea Levels

Posted: May 10 2016, 3:01am CDT | by , Updated: May 11 2016, 7:57pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News


Five Solomon Islands Disappeared Due to Rising Sea Levels
Photo Credit: Getty Images

This is the first study to accurately estimate the adverse affects of climate change on the Solomon Islands located in the Pacific Ocean.

Rising sea levels is one of biggest challenges mankind is facing today and most likely in the future as well if steps are not taken to restrict it. 

According to a latest report, five Solomon Islands have disappeared into Pacific Ocean and at least six more are on the verge of submersion due to the adverse impacts of climate change.

The Solomon Islands are made up of 6 large islands and more than 900 smaller islands located in the Pacific Ocean and many of whom are badly affected by the rising sea levels in recent years. This is the first time when researchers have correctly analyzed the loss of Solomon Islands shoreline in the context of global warming. The study has been conducted in the areas of Pacific where the rate of annual sea rise is as much as 3 to 5 millimeters – almost on power with the global average of 3 mm per year. Over the past two decades, the annual sea rise of the Solomon Islands has spiked dramatically around 7 to 10 mm. 

The lost islands ranged in size from 1 to hectares and estimated to be 300 years old. “The islands were densely vegetated with tropical forests. Coconut palms, she-oaks, mangroves, pandanus.” Lead researcher Simon Albert from University of Queensland said.

The other six islands have also been witnessing larger chunks of their mass washing into the sea in the past few years. On the island of Nuatambu, the ocean has swallowed 11 houses since 2011 while only 12 are remained. People will have to move to other areas, if the same trend continues. The new study links submergence of islands with the man-caused climate change.

“There are large volcanic islands where people can relocate to,” said Albert. “The majority of land is tightly controlled by traditional owners – so moving one group of people onto other people’s lands has been the source of ethnic conflict.

For the study, researchers used aerial images of 33 island from 1947 to 2015 as well as historic evidences, local knowledge and the techniques such as radiocarbon dating to determine the age of trees on island. They have found that the north islands are facing strongest waves and will likely sink in near future. The study points to the urgent need of well-directed global effort to prevent the further loss. 

Melchior Mataki, head of the Solomon Islands' National Disaster Council says, “This ultimately calls for support from development partners and international financial mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund. This support should include nationally driven scientific studies to inform adaptation planning to address the impacts of climate change in Solomon Islands.”

The findings were published in online journal Environmental Research Letters.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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