A new study has found that five previously-charted small islands in the Solomon Island chain have slipped beneath the ocean, due to the effects of climate change-related sea level rise, and from the erosion caused by the encroaching ocean. These small islands were thankfully uninhabited, but the study also shows that another six islands in the chain are experiencing severe shoreline recession, with two villages having been lost as a result, forcing the residents to relocate.
The Solomon Islands are considered to be "a global sea-level rise hotspot", seeing ocean increases of up to 0.4 inches annually. The study’s researchers used aerial imaging and radiocarbon dating to track the heights of the islands, last charted in 1947, but had completely vanished by 2014. Of the two previously-inhabited islands that had to be abandoned, one of them has lost half of it’s habitable area since 2011, and the damage is expected to get worse.
"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 warns. The study indicates that the low-lying reef islands in the Solomon Islands are a canary-in-the-coalmine for the coastal recession aspect of climate change, calling them "a valuable window into the future impacts of global sea-level rise", a harbinger for what appears to be in store for the world’s coastal areas.
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