Five small islands go under sea in the Solomon Islands archipelago
Global sea level rise has suddenly transformed from a distant threat to a very immediate concern in the Solomon Islands archipelago in the Pacific, as five small islands have gone under sea forever.
Australian scientists just discovered that sea level rise officially consumed five small islands in the chain of Solomon Islands, a sovereign country that lies in the Pacific Ocean northeast of Australia and east of Papua New Guinea.
The Solomon Islands archipelago is made up of six major islands -- New Georgia, Choiseul, Santa Isabel, Guadalcanal, Malaita, and San Cristóbal -- and a group of more than 900 smaller islands that is now smaller by five. All told, the group of islands has a collective land mass of approximately 11,000 square miles for its 520,000 residents (2009 population estimate).
Severe shoreline recession
A recent scientific study led by Australian scientists analyzed low-lying reef islands in the Solomon Islands to examine impacts global sea-level rise. The scientists documented that five vegetated reef islands recently vanished and also discovered six additional islands that are experiencing severe shoreline recession and could be next to be claimed by rising a global sea level.
Researchers also discovered shoreline recession at two specific sites in the archipelago that destroyed villages and forced community relocations. The destroyed villages existed since at least 1935. Overall, scientists concluded that the severity of the erosion seen on the islands "highlights the critical need to understand the complex interplay between the projected accelerating sea-level rise [and] other changes in global climate."
The region of the Pacific that is home to the Solomon Islands is no stranger to natural disasters in recent weeks. Nearby Vanuatu, which lies about 600 miles southeast of the Solomon Islands, was hit with a magnitude-7.0 earthquake at the end of April.
The region is no stranger to natural disasters, period. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), there have been at least 23 quakes of magnitude-7.0 or larger within 155 miles that most recent quake in Vanuatu. Now, coupled with dangers of a rising global sea level, the list of worries for these island nations continues to grow.