Several islands are slowly but surely being submerged by the oceans across the planet. You only have a short time to appreciate their beauty before they disappear under the blue waves.
Nearly a thousand islands and atolls make up the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific. This important archipelago is inexorably disappearing into the sea. Since 1993, the level of the oceans has risen by 8 millimetres . It is rising so rapidly that the provincial capital Choiseul is only 6.6 feet above sea level, and a new town is being built to accommodate the residents. According to a 2016 paper in Environmental Research Letters , five reef islands have completely disappeared, and several villages dating back to 1935 have been destroyed with the disappearance of the coastline.
The beautiful and popular Maldives, an archipelago located in the Indian Ocean that is home to several luxurious hotels – some of them underwater – are slowly being devoured by the waters. According to the CIA , the low elevation of the islands makes them very vulnerable to rising seas. The country could be completely covered by 2100, according to the World Bank . In 2009, the president held a meeting under the sea to draw attention to the environmental disaster.
A study published through collaboration between the National Weather Bureau of Palau and the Pacific Climate Change Science Program indicates that the water level around this South Pacific archipelago has risen 0.35 inches annually since 1993, or three times the world average. It is expected to rise 24 inches by 2090. According to reports broadcast by Public Radio International , local residents report that their grounds are flooded during high waves caused by the full moon, and that they plan to move to another country. Even Pacific jellyfish are disappearing , a situation that could be due to global warming.
Micronesia is a country that consists of 607 islands spread over an area of 4000 kilometers southwest of Hawaii, in the Pacific Ocean. Its meager 434 square kilometers of surface conceal numerous mountains, marshes, lagoons and beaches. In recent memory, several islands have been submerged while others have seen their area shrink dramatically, according to the Journal of Coastal Conservation .
These low lying Pacific islands are vulnerable to sea level changes. According to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change , the village of Vunidogoloa was the first to be relocated due to rapidly rising waters, and the situation continues to worsen. According to a report by the World Bank , a few villages have lost 15 to 20 meters of coastline in recent decades due to the disappearance of marshes. The sea level is expected to rise by 43 centimeters by 2050. Rising ocean temperatures are also affecting coral reefs, causing them to bleach and make them vulnerable to disease.
The South Pacific nation’s prime minister said “rising seas and severe weather events are a growing threat to the entire population.” The government says it is one of the most vulnerable places on Earth, and the impact could be disastrous for the 10,000 residents there.
Located off the east African coast, the Seychelles is witnessing an unprecedented rise in seas, if compared to the past 6,000 years, according to a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences . Since 85% of the developed land is located on the coast, the situation can become catastrophic. According to the Seychelles News Agency , a rise of just one meter could completely cover its low-lying islands and several uninhabited coastal areas, representing a 70% loss of territory. Mangrove forests and coral reefs are also at high risk of extinction.
A project exists to displace all the inhabitants of this Pacific island, a consequence of the rise in the level of the oceans. The president of this independent republic even considered buying land from Fiji in 2012 as insurance against climate change, with the aim of settling its population there. He claimed that “displacement would not be a choice, it is essentially a matter of survival”. According to him, the country will be completely uninhabitable by 2050.
The Cook Islands
Described by the tourist board as being “like Hawaii 50 years ago”, the Cook Islands, off New Zealand, are among the endangered archipelagos. The rising waters, which are predicted to rise 55 centimeters by 2090 , could damage roads, bridges, ports and airstrips, which will have a negative impact on the population and tourism.
Made up of magnificent tropical hideaways like Bora Bora, Tahiti and the Society Islands, French Polynesia is on many travellers’ must-see lists. This is a destination of choice that could disappear within 100 years. According to an article in Nature Conservation , 30% of the territory could be submerged by the end of the century. Rather than consider moving to another country, the government is considering building “floating islands” near Tahiti, and hopes that technology companies will take an interest in the project.
Tangier Island, Virginia
The United States is not spared from rising sea levels. Tangier Island , located off Chesapeake Bay, is only accessible by boat or plane. People get around mainly by bicycle or… golf cart in this soft-shelled crab capital of the country. The roads are narrow, and there are many natural beaches, charming souvenir shops and ice cream counters. Since 1850, more than 60% of the territory has disappeared, according to Nature.com , which predicts the complete disappearance of the island within 25 to 50 years.
This group of islands located between Hawaii and Australia is recognized around the world for its friendly inhabitants and its coral reefs. According to a document published by the National Islands Meteorological Office and the Pacific-Australia Climate Change Science and Adaptation Planning Program, the sea level rise, at 7 millimeters per year, is twice the planetary average. It is estimated that they will rise 7.5 inches by 2030, causing coastal flooding and storms.
This tiny island home to 650 souls has been slowly fading away for 50 years, according to the United States Department of the Interior . It would have lost 100 feet since 1997. It is expected to be completely submerged within the next 20 years. Esau Sinnok, a resident of Shishmaref, claims to have moved house 13 times due to loss of territory. The lack of financial resources makes relocation difficult for the inhabitants, who voted in favor of leaving the place accessible only by plane.