Tuesday, March 15, 2011

8 Islands Soon to be Uninhabitable Because of Climate Change

Key West, Florida
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Key West , Florida is a bit of a ringer is this group, as several parts of the island are about 12-18 feet in elevation and would be above sea level except in the most dire of predictions. But according to sea level rise prediction maps, much of the island will nonetheless become flooded with 3 feet of sea level rise.

Bhola Island, Bangladesh
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See that yellow highlighted area on the Google Earth image? That's Bhola Island in Bangladesh. Or, more properly, what's left of it

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Since 1965, half of the island has been eroded due to rising sea levels, flooding and erosion. Prior to that time the land had been stable for some time. So, while all of Bhola's troubles can't be attributed directly to climate change, global warming's not going to help things any. In 2005, some 500,000 people had to be evacuated due to permanent flooding of the island.

Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands
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Majuro Atoll is home to some 25,000 people and is the largest city in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Though it only has a land area of 3.75 square miles, the central lagoon is about 114 square miles. The land is so narrow that you can walk from ocean to lagoon in a matter of minutes. And given that the highest point on Majuro is only about 10 feet above sea level, much of land is likely to become uninhabitable due to rising sea levels.

Pate and Ndau, Kenya
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Pate are two small islands in the Lamu Archipelago off the northern coast of Kenya, near Somalia. Pate Island is the largest in the chain and lies near the town Lamu (pictured here). Lamu itself is a world heritage site, dating back to at least the 12th century.

Carteret Islands, Papua New Guinea 
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Also known at Carteret Atoll, this island off the coast of Papua New Guinea near Bougainville has maximum elevation of about 1.5 meters (5 feet). As of 2005 about 1000 people lived on the island.
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Flooding is already taking place and it is estimated that by 2015, the atoll will be entirely submerged. Seawater flooding is already damaging vegetation. Evacuations of island residents has been ongoing since 2003, but funding has delayed its completion.

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Kiribati consists of 32 atolls and one raised coral island dispersed over 1,350,000 square miles straddling the equator in the central Pacific Ocean. 

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Most of the atolls are just a few meters above sea level, and at only half a meter of sea level rise much the nation's arable land will be subject to increased soil salination or submerged.

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Made up of four coral islands and five atolls off the coast of Australia, Tuvalu has a maximum height of only 4.5 meters (15 feet) above sea level.
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But it's not just flooding that could make these islands uninhabitable, rising saltwater could also damage crops such as coconut and taro.

Maldive Islands
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Officially, the Republic of Maldives, this island nation consists of 26 atolls and just under 1,200 islets, of which 250 are inhabited.
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With a maximum elevation of only 2.3 meters (7,5 feet), and an average elevation of just 1.5 meters (5 feet), it's easy to see why the Maldives are going to get inundated by only a small increase in sea levels.
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