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Tropical Pacific Islands Are Not Being Drowned By Rising Seas

August 8, 2016
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By Paul Homewood 

 

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http://www.cato.org/blog/sixty-six-years-island-shoreline-dynamics-jaluit-atoll-marshall-islands

 

From Cato:

According to a conventional narrative, tropical islands are eroding away due to rising seas and increasingly devastating storms. Not really, according to the recent work of Ford and Kench (2016).

Writing as background for their study, the two researchers state that low-lying reef islands are “considered highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change,” where an “increased frequency and intensification of cyclones and eustatic sea-level rise [via global warming] are expected to accelerate shoreline erosion and destabilize reef islands.” However, they note that much remains to be learned about the drivers of shoreline dynamics on both short- and long-term time scales in order to properly project future changes in low-lying island development. And seeking to provide some of that knowledge, the pair of New Zealand researchers set out to examine historical changes in 87 islands found within the Jaluit Atoll (~6°N, 169.6°E), Republic of the Marshall Islands, over the period 1945-2010. During this time, the islands were subjected to ongoing sea level rise and the passage of a notable typhoon (Ophelia, in 1958), the latter of which caused severe damage with its >100 knot winds and abnormal wave heights.

So what did their examination reveal?

Analyses of aerial photographs and high-resolution satellite imagery indicated that the passage of Typhoon Ophelia caused a decrease in total island land area of approximately five percent, yet Ford and Kench write that “despite [this] significant typhoon-driven erosion and a relaxation period coincident with local sea-level rise, [the] islands have persisted and grown.” Between 1976 and 2006, for example, 73 out of the 87 islands increased in size, and by 2010, the total landmass of the islands had exceeded the pre-typhoon area by nearly 4 percent.

Such observations, in the words of Ford and Kench, suggest an “alternative trajectory” for future reef island development, and that trajectory is one of “continued island expansion rather than one of island withering.” And such expansion is not just limited to Jaluit Atoll, for according to Ford and Kench, “the observations of reef island growth on Jaluit coincident with sea level rise are broadly consistent with observations of reef islands made elsewhere in the Marshall Islands and Pacific (McLean and Kench, 2015).” Given as much, it would thus appear that low-lying islands are not as vulnerable to climate change as previously thought.

http://www.cato.org/blog/sixty-six-years-island-shoreline-dynamics-jaluit-atoll-marshall-islands

15 Comments leave one →
  1. August 8, 2016 6:35 pm

    Darwin wrote about this in 1834. Nice to have him reconfirmed.

    • Broadlands permalink
      August 8, 2016 8:43 pm

      Darwin also made sea and air temperature measurements, mostly at 12 Noon on his five year voyage, The HMS Beagle was moored at Rio de Janeiro (presumably with less pollution than now?) in June of 1832. Compared with the noon temperatures this past June, they were warmer back then, but not statistically so. Not much “climate change”?

  2. Broadlands permalink
    August 8, 2016 8:38 pm

    The IPCC also wrote about it..but it’s interesting the way that managed to place the emphasis on the decreased 14%….

    Table 5.3. 5.4.2.1.1 “Observed impacts”.

  3. August 8, 2016 8:52 pm

    Reblogged this on Jaffer's blog.

  4. August 8, 2016 9:23 pm

    Meanwhile some people are trying to drown sanity under a wave of improbable climate assertions.

  5. tom0mason permalink
    August 8, 2016 9:45 pm

    I’m always amused when people try to make out that corals are fragile…
    Corals are so fragile that 50 years after the H-Bomb was tested on Bikini Atoll, researchers found that the coral had made a very good show of growing back.
    Unfortunately the native human population did not fare so well — see http://bikiniatoll.com/history.html

    Corals were here a long, long before humans came about. Corals will, in all probability, be here long after we have killed ourselves through allowing the embers of a local uncivil war ignite into a full blown global conflagration.

  6. August 8, 2016 10:16 pm

    Paul, it might be knew to Cato, but you’ve done a similar post before
    This report : “73 out of the 87 islands increased in size” (Jaluit Atoll, Marshall Islands)
    Your previous post June 19 2015 said
    “they conclude that 18 out of 29 islands have actually grown.” (Funafuti atoll,Tuvalu) McLean and Kench, 2015

    • August 8, 2016 10:17 pm

      new not knew ..duh

    • Willis Eschenbach permalink
      August 9, 2016 12:18 am

      stewgreen PERMALINK

      August 8, 2016 10:16 pm
      Paul, it might be new to Cato, but you’ve done a similar post before
      This report : “73 out of the 87 islands increased in size” (Jaluit Atoll, Marshall Islands)

      Thanks, stewgreen. Different studies, both including Kench. One is McLean and Kench, the other is Ford and Kench. I wrote last month about the latest one in a post called “The Unsinkable “Sinking Atolls” Meme

      Regards to all,

      w.

  7. August 9, 2016 5:41 am

    “it would thus appear that low-lying islands are not as vulnerable to climate change as previously thought”. It would be good to know who had these previous and wrong thoughts.

    • Broadlands permalink
      August 9, 2016 12:32 pm

      Phillip..Have you read about the International Coral Reef Initiative? They conclude that human “climate change” is already damaging the reefs…and it is expected? to get worse.

    • Willis Eschenbach permalink
      August 9, 2016 5:18 pm

      Phillip Bratby PERMALINK

      August 9, 2016 5:41 am
      “it would thus appear that low-lying islands are not as vulnerable to climate change as previously thought”. It would be good to know who had these previous and wrong thoughts.

      As far as I know, this BS started with a ludicrous article in the Sierra Club Magazine about Tuvalu, and went downhill from there. You might want to check out my post, “Floating Islands” for more details …

      w.

  8. John Chassin permalink
    August 9, 2016 3:21 pm

    The Chinese military doesn’t seemed too concerned when they spend millions building airstrips on “islands” which by all predictions should be under water in the coming years.

    • Bloke down the pub permalink
      August 10, 2016 11:30 am

      A lot of the islands that the Chinese have built military facilities on were underwater until recently and have only risen above the waves as a result of massive engineering work. It is safe to assume that without continued maintenance, they will return to being ‘shoals’ as their name indicates they once were.

  9. Sara Hall permalink
    August 10, 2016 5:40 pm

    The San Blas (or Guna Yala) islands of Panama are just about as low lying as it gets and many dwellings are on stilts. They survive quite happily because they’re far enough south to avoid Atlantic hurricanes, though they would be devastated if a storm were ever to hit. If my all too brief visit to Pinos in 2010 is anything to go by, the islands will be sure to continue to grow above sea level anyway, built up in part by the thousands of bizarrely discarded odd shoes! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Blas_Islands

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