The sea swallowed 5 Pacific islands

The sea swallowed 5 Pacific islands

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By Susana Angulo

The study was published in Environmental Research Letters, and analyzed aerial and satellite imagery of 33 islands from 1947 and 2014 of the Solomon Islands, a country made up of hundreds of islands, with an estimated 640,000 people located about 1,600 kilometers northeast of Australia. With these analyzes, the researchers discovered that sea levels on these islands have risen by as much as 10 millimeters each year in the last two decades.

Coastal recession on Nuatambu Island. Image: IOP Publishing.

The five islands that were washed away were islands of vegetation of up to five hectares that were sometimes used by local fishermen. In addition, among the six islands that eroded is Nuatambu Island, one of the most affected in which 25 families live, who according to researchers have lost 11 houses and half of their habitable area within the island. This report confirms, according to its authors, the many anecdotes of people living in the Pacific about the impacts of climate change on islands and populations.

However, it is important to clarify that the flooding of these islands is not only due to sea level rises but also to the erosion of the coasts, both rock and sand. It was found that the recession on the coasts is worse in areas exposed to strong waves, and phenomena such as hurricanes that cause soil erosion.

Due to the flooding of the islands, the communities that inhabit the islands have had to adapt to the conditions. For example, many inhabitants of Nuatambu have moved to a nearby island that is higher because it has a volcano. Other people have gone to Nararo Island, which has also not been affected by the water.

Images: Jenny Scott (via Flickr) and IOP.

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