Now that's alarming.
Sea levels rise for about 3 millimetres per year around the world. And while there are a lot of people denying this, climate change is still to be blamed.
For the western Pacific, however, extra water has been built up since the last half-century due to its natural trade wind cycle. Specifically, Micronesia and the Solomon Islands had gone through a yearly 12 millimetres rise since early 1990s. Previous research even found five of the Solomon Islands to disappear under rising seas.
Now, at least eight low-lying islands in Micronesia also vanished thanks to the same culprit.
Patrick Nunn at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia and team had coastal survey, talked to local people, and examined the satellite images of the Pohnpei island as well as those low-lying islands surrounding it.
Results showed that Pohnpei actually had only little coastal erosion. This is most probably due to its high altitude and mangrove forests, says Nunn. “Mangroves provide a buffer by absorbing wave energy and trapping sediment,” he says.
Surprisingly, other three small islands in its west side are also doing great. Nunn explained this could be due to its location, with the main island "protecting" it. But when they looked into the south of the main island, they had some worrying findings.
Several low-lying reef islands have shrunk and are continually "fighting for their lives". Others, however, didn't make it and disappeared entirely. Specifically, two former islands called Kepidau en Pehleng and Nahlapenlohd were gone within the last century. The other six in the unpopulated Laiap, Nahtik and Ros island chains, which are approximately 100 square meters each, were also swallowed whole between 2007 and 2014!
This serves as a sample and warning to other low-lying lying nations around the world, says Nunn. If we don't act fast, climate change surely will; and have the raging ocean have its way over other islands and force inhabitants to move to a much higher ground.
The findings even showed how to possibly protect them: just hope it's sheltered or it has lagoons for trapping sediment. If not, you can start planting now and ring it with mangrove forests.
Not every island will erode; we just have to find ways to save them.
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