Sinking Pacific Island Tuvalu Is Actually Getting Bigger

Posted: Feb 11 2018, 7:04am CST | by , Updated: Feb 11 2018, 7:07am CST, in News | Latest Science News

Sinking Pacific Island Tuvalu is Actually Getting Bigger
Aerial photographs and satellite imagery of Tuvalu between 1971 and 2014

Researchers have found that island has grown significantly over the past 40 years

Tuvalu is a small Pacific nation located about midway between Hawaii and Australia and is so low-lying that it stands no more than 15 feet above sea level.

It has been long thought that climate change will hit Pacific harder than most places on Earth and Tuvalu alongside many other pacific nations will eventually sink due to rising sea levels. However, a new research has found that the island is actually growing in size. Over the past 40 years, Tuvalu has grown over 180 acres despite the fact that sea level in the country is rising almost twice the global average.

“We tend to think of Pacific atolls as static landforms that will simply be inundated as sea level rise, but there is growing evidence that these islands are geologically dynamic and are constantly changing,” said co study author Paul Kench from University of Auckland.

“The study findings may seem counter-intuitive, given that sea level has been rising in the region over the past half century, but the dominant mode of change over that time on Tuvalu has been expansion, not erosion.”

Climate change is a major threat to low-lying areas in Pacific. It is feared that rise in sea levels will make many of those states inhabitable and force residents to flee other parts of the world. The new research will help authorities understand how Pacific islands will respond to climate change and how they can confront those challenges ahead.

For the study, researchers used aerial photographs and satellite imagery and examined the changes in the geography of Tuvalu’s nine atolls and 101 reef islands between 1971 and 2014. They found that eight of the atolls and almost three-quarters of the islands grew during the study period, expanding Tuvalu's total land area by about 3 percent.

“While we recognize that habitability rests on a number of factors, loss of land is unlikely to be a factor in forcing depopulation of Tuvalu,” said Kench.

“On the basis of this research, we project a markedly different trajectory for Tuvalu’s islands over the next century than is commonly envisaged.”

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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