Five Solomon Islands Disappear Into the Pacific Ocean as a Result of Climate Change

Rising seas are to blame for the disappearance of the islands, scientists warn.

ByABC News
May 9, 2016, 3:26 PM

— -- Five of the Solomon Islands have submerged underwater and six more have experienced a dramatic reduction in shoreline due to man-made climate change, according to a paper published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

The Solomon Islands, a sovereign country consisting of a network of picturesque, tropical islands located in the Pacific Ocean, has a population of a little more than 500,000 people, according to census data published in 2009, many of whom have been adversely affected by rising sea levels in recent years.

Ten houses from one island were washed away at sea between 2011 and 2014, according to the study, which asserts that the rising sea levels affecting the Solomon Islands are caused by the warming of the planet.

The research, which was conducted by Australian scientists, bears implications that are likely to reverberate far beyond the turquoise shores of Oceania.

In March, James Hansen, a NASA scientist who is extremely influential in the study of climate change, estimated that seas could rise by seven meters in the coming century, a figure that would likely decimate coastal communities, if proved accurate.

Losing Ground, a report issued by the nonprofit news organization ProPublica in 2014, demonstrated that large swaths of the Louisiana coastline are being lost to rising sea levels, and a 2011 study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey determined that the state's wetlands were being lost at a rate of "a football field per hour." South Florida, the Carolinas, and the Jersey Shore are also in danger of losing land due to sea level rise, according to an interactive map created by Climate Central, an organization of scientists.

The Solomon Islands provides a preview of how sea-level rise could affect other coastal communities in the coming years, according to the study, largely because the speed with which erosion is taking place there has been accelerated by a "synergistic interaction" with the waves that surround it.

"In addition to village relocations, Taro, the capital of Choiseul Province is set to become the first provincial capital globally to relocate residents and services due to the threat of sea-level rise," the study said.