REMOTE island nations in the Pacific and Indian Oceans have for many years been considered extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change and, in particular, rising sea levels.
However, new research by the University of Plymouth and University of Auckland is seeking to demonstrate that islands formed on coral reefs are in fact ymore resilient than has perhaps been suggested to date.
University of Auckland Professor Paul Kench and co-researcher Dr Murray Ford examined changes in the geography of Tuvalu’s nine atolls and 101 reef islands between 1971 and 2014, using aerial photographs and satellite imagery.
They found the total landmass of Tuvalu of 26 square kilometres, which is just bigger than Auckland’s Rangitoto Island, had a net increase of 2.9 per cent during the 40-year period of study. This represented 73 hectares (180 acres) of land increase, despite competing sea-level rise rates of over 3.5 mm per year simultaneously.
This peer-reviewed scientific study published recently flies in the face of sensationalised rhetoric for over a decade by Enele Sopoaga, Prime Minister of Tuvalu.
In December 2014, Sopoaga asked fellow world leaders at the United Nations climate summit in Lima, Peru: “If you were faced with the threat of the disappearance of your nation, what would you do?”
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