Solomon Islands being swallowed up by ocean as climate change causes sea levels to rise

8 years ago
ISABEL, SOLOMON ISLANDS — A new study led by University of Queensland researchers says that changes in global climate and the subsequent sea level rise has already led to the loss of multiple Pacific islands.

The team of Australian scientists, after sifting through decades worth of historical insight from locals as well as time series aerial and satellite imagery, say that Isabel, one of the main islands of the Solomon archipelago, has already lost five of its reef islands. These islands were once densely vegetated but weren't populated, reported the Washington Post. However, another six islands on Isabel have declined in area by more than 20 percent between 1947 and 2014.

Meanwhile, residents of the island of Nuatambu have been forced to relocate to the nearby main island of Choiseul because of flooding. Of the dozens of homes that once stood on Nuatambu, at least 11 have already been swept away by the rising waters. One town on the Solomon Islands' Taro Island began planning to relocate all of its residents in 2014 because the sea level rise threatens to swallow the land.

According to the study, while the global average rate of sea level rise has been 3.2 millimeters per year since 1993, the Solomon Islands have experienced an average rise by about 7 to 10 millimeters per year since 1994.

The research team, who published their study in the journal Environmental Research Letters on Friday, discovered that the sea level rise has destroyed villages that have existed since the 1930s, and has displaced numerous communities.

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