Australian researchers say six more islands are in danger, “experiencing severe shoreline recession”
Whether or not you are of the mind that climate change is at the hands of an omnipotent deity or human activity, as climate patterns around the world worsen, the effects are become more and more apparent – including the disappearance in the Pacific Ocean of five of the Solomon Islands under the rising sea levels.
In a newly published study in Environmental Research Letters, five vegetated reef islands (Kale, Rapita, Rehana, Kakatina, and Zollies) have entirely disappeared, with a further six islands “experiencing severe shoreline recession.” In two cases, fishing communities living on these islands have been forced to relocate due to the encroaching water.
“Understanding these local factors that increase the susceptibility of islands to coastal erosion is critical to guide adaptation responses for these remote Pacific communities,” the research team said.
Using images captured from aircraft and satellites from 1947 to 2014, the researchers charted the rate of erosion of 33 islands. The Australian scientists say their research shows that the Western Pacific is turning into the theatre of war in the battle against rising seas levels, with remote communities forced to relocate to higher elevations to remain where they are.
The Solomon Islands is a nation of hundreds of islands stretching across the South Pacific and home to 560,000 people. As the sea rises around them, many of the Islanders are being forced inland from their homes on the lands beside the coastline – with others left with no choice but to move to different reef islands.
Authorities in Taro, the capital of Choiseul Province, are preparing to officially relocate residents and essential services to a new location, while a village in Northern Choiseul has seen half of its houses lost to the sea.