A blog about weather, climate, and science. Occasionally, we'll post on other topics of interest.
Saturday, October 15, 2016
No, Global Warming Is Not Sinking the Marshall Islands
Now, it's peer-reviewed!!!
From yesterday's Wall Street Journal:
Once a year or so, journalists from major news outlets travel to the Marshall Islands, a remote chain of volcanic islands and coral atolls in the Pacific Ocean, to report in panicked tones that the island nation is vanishing because of climate change. Their dispatches are often filled with raw emotion and suggest that residents are fleeing atolls swiftly sinking into the sea...
Using historic aerial photographs and high-resolution satellite imagery, Auckland University scientists Murray Ford and Paul Kench recently analyzed shoreline changes on six atolls and two mid-ocean reef islands in the Marshall Islands. Their peer-reviewed study, published in the September 2015 issue of Anthropocene, revealed that since the middle of the 20th century the total land area of the islands has actually grown.
How is that possible? It seems self-evident that rising sea levels will reduce land area. However, there is a process of accretion, where coral broken up by the waves washes up on these low-lying islands as sand, counteracting the reduction in land mass. Research shows that this process is overpowering the erosion from sea-level rise, leading to net land-area gain.