Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Where the sea has risen too high already

Catherine Wilson in IPS: The deceptively calm waters of Langa Langa Lagoon on the west coast of Malaita Island in the Solomon Islands is home to thousands of people who have lived on artificial islands for centuries. For generations the islanders in this south-west Pacific nation have employed tenacity and ingenuity to maintain their existence on these tiny low-lying man-made atolls, devoid of freshwater and arable land. But climate change is now the greatest threat to their survival.

“The seas are rough and the tides are getting higher. Sometimes the waves come right across the island during the wet season,” Alphonsus Waleronoa said on Raolo Island, which has a total area of about 100 square metres.

....The Solomon Islands is an archipelago of more than 900 islands east of Papua New Guinea with the majority of the population residing close to the nation’s 4,023 km of coastline. Natural disasters are a high risk especially during the wet season from November to April when tropical cyclones, tsunamis and gale force winds can generate floods and destruction.

...The sea level near the Solomon Islands has risen by 8 mm per year since 1993, compared to the global average of 2.8-3.6mm, according to the Pacific Climate Change Science Programme. The prediction is that by 2030 the sea could rise by a maximum of 15 cm, the average wind speed of cyclones could increase by up to 11 percent and associated rainfall intensity by 20 percent....

Aerial shot of Batuna, Solomon Islands, shot by Graeme Bartlett, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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