Study shows we've lost five islands to climate change

Climate change has resulted in rising sea levels and erosion which have caused five reef islets in the Solomon Islands to be completely lost, increasing the devastating impact of climate change on low lying Pacific countries.

Photo Cred - Simon Albert - author provided


The newly published paper by Australian academics reveals that these five reef islets in the Solomon Islands have been lost due to climate change causing sea level rise and coastal erosion, with a further six having severe shoreline recession.

Published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, the paper focuses on Solomon Islands - which the authors describe as a global sea level rise hotspot.

In the Solomon Islands the sea has risen at almost three times the global average, that’s 7-10 mm per year since 1993.

That is in line with what to expect across much of the Pacific, as a result of human-caused sea-level rise.

Time series aerial and satellite imagery of 33 reef islands from 1947 to 2014 were studied and the information integrated with local traditional knowledge, radiocarbon dating of trees, sea-level records and wave models.

This is the first scientific evidence confirming the numerous anecdotal accounts from across the Pacific of the dramatic impacts of climate change on coastlines and people.

Researchers confirm what many in the Pacific have been trying to get across for years; that the most vulnerable to climate change are the small remote islands in the Pacific.

They say that the way islands and the communities that inhabit them respond to climate change and particularly sea-level rise is a critical issue for the coming century.