Monday, June 7, 2010
Rising Seas Not So Bad
Contrary to expectation, tiny islands in the Pacific Ocean are not as vulnerable to seas swallowing them up due to global warming. A new study shows that despite sea level rising by ~2 millimeters per year, 23 of the 27 Pacific islands studied held firm in land area or saw a slight increase.
Unlike the sandbars of American east coast, low-lying Pacific islands are made of coral debris (eroded from reefs and pushed onto islands by winds, waves and currents). Because the corals are alive, they provide a continuous supply of material. Causeways and other structures linking islands can boost growth by trapping sediment that would otherwise get lost to the ocean.
While islands are expected to survive, scientists are not as confident about island's life-supporting capabilities.