Coastal recession of Sogomou and Kale. (a) Coastline recession on Sogomou Island between 1947 and 2014, (b) view from the eroding eastern end of Sogomou looking back towards the remainder of the island, (c) coastline recession on Kale Island between 1947 and 2014. Note: Kale Island was completely displaced by 2014. Graphic: Albert, et al., 2016 / Environmental Research Letters

7 May 2016 (AFP) – Five islands have disappeared in the Pacific's Solomon Islands due to rising sea levels and coastal erosion, according to an Australian study that could provide valuable insights for future research.

A further six reef islands have been severely eroded in the remote area of the Solomons, the study said, with one experiencing some 10 houses being swept into the sea between 2011 and 2014.

"At least 11 islands across the northern Solomon Islands have either totally disappeared over recent decades or are currently experiencing severe erosion," the study published in Environmental Research Letters said.

"Shoreline recession at two sites has destroyed villages that have existed since at least 1935, leading to community relocations."

The scientists said the five that had vanished were all vegetated reef islands up to five hectares (12 acres) that were occasionally used by fishermen but not populated.

"They were not just little sand islands," leader author Simon Albert told AFP.

It is feared that the rise in sea levels will cause widespread erosion and inundation of low-lying atolls in the Pacific.

Albert, a senior research fellow at the University of Queensland, said the Solomons was considered a sea-level hotspot because rises there are almost three times higher than the global average. [more]

Sea-level rise claims five islands in Solomons: study


ABSTRACT: Low-lying reef islands in the Solomon Islands provide a valuable window into the future impacts of global sea-level rise. Sea-level rise has been predicted to cause widespread erosion and inundation of low-lying atolls in the central Pacific. However, the limited research on reef islands in the western Pacific indicates the majority of shoreline changes and inundation to date result from extreme events, seawalls and inappropriate development rather than sea-level rise alone. Here, we present the first analysis of coastal dynamics from a sea-level rise hotspot in the Solomon Islands. Using time series aerial and satellite imagery from 1947 to 2014 of 33 islands, along with historical insight from local knowledge, we have identified five vegetated reef islands that have vanished over this time period and a further six islands experiencing severe shoreline recession. Shoreline recession at two sites has destroyed villages that have existed since at least 1935, leading to community relocations. Rates of shoreline recession are substantially higher in areas exposed to high wave energy, indicating a synergistic interaction between sea-level rise and waves. Understanding these local factors that increase the susceptibility of islands to coastal erosion is critical to guide adaptation responses for these remote Pacific communities.

Interactions between sea-level rise and wave exposure on reef island dynamics in the Solomon Islands

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