Lawrence Solomon: Call off the evacuation: Pacific Islands are expanding

Contrary to the warnings of global warming alarmists, most islands in the Pacific are stable or expanding, according to a study published last month in Global and Planetary Change. While 14% of the islands studied showed a decline in area, 43% were stable and 43% expanded in size. None of the changes in area were dramatic.

Islands are dynamic, the study found, akin to organisms that are continually adapting to the environment. As seen by examining satellite images and historical aerial photography over a 19 to 61 year period in 27 atoll islands, islands continually changed form and tended to grow because they are composed of coral debris. Because corals are living creatures that propagate themselves, islands are continually replenished with new landmass. Islands can also increase by accumulating debris from storms. Tuvalu’s main island increased by 10% in 1972, when hurricane Bebe deposited 140 hectares of sedimentary debris onto its eastern reef.

The feared erosion of Pacific Islands from rising sea levels that climate scientists warned about, in other words, was based on abstract climate change theory bereft of an understanding of the formation and ecology of islands. Pacific islanders will not be forced to evacuate their homes, as the world’s media has many times reported.

The study, The dynamic response of reef islands to sea level rise: evidence from multi-decadal analysis of island change in the central pacific, was conducted by scientists at the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission in Fiji and the School of Environment at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. It presents the first quantitative analysis of physical changes in 27 atoll islands in the central Pacific over a 60-year period.

Lawrence Solomon, Financial Post, June 03, 2010

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