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'Sinking' Pacific Nation Tuvalu Is Actually Getting Bigger (phys.org) 152

mi shares a report from Phys.Org: The Pacific nation of Tuvalu -- long seen as a prime candidate to disappear as climate change forces up sea levels -- is actually growing in size, new research shows. A University of Auckland study examined changes in the geography of Tuvalu's nine atolls and 101 reef islands between 1971 and 2014, using aerial photographs and satellite imagery. It found eight of the atolls and almost three-quarters of the islands grew during the study period, lifting Tuvalu's total land area by 2.9 percent, even though sea levels in the country rose at twice the global average. Co-author Paul Kench said the research, published Friday in the journal Nature Communications, challenged the assumption that low-lying island nations would be swamped as the sea rose. It found factors such as wave patterns and sediment dumped by storms could offset the erosion caused by rising water levels.

'Sinking' Pacific Nation Tuvalu Is Actually Getting Bigger

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  • by Ayano ( 4882157 ) on Saturday February 10, 2018 @05:33AM (#56099587)
    This assumes that enough vulnerable locations will have such wave and storm patterns to be able to replenish what is lost by what is essentially a global flat raise of sea levels.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Sea levels that have been rising at the same slow consistent rate since the end of the last ice age....

      • by riverat1 ( 1048260 ) on Saturday February 10, 2018 @10:04AM (#56100075)

        No they haven't. In the last couple of thousand years there's been a slight drop in sea levels. Until about 1900 that is when sea level rise has been consistent and accelerating. Here's an interesting article on SLR over the past several thousand years.

        Sea level isn't level-Ocean siphoning, levered continents and the Holocene sea level highstand [skepticalscience.com]

      • by aliquis ( 678370 )

        Here in Sweden it's rather land which has lifted. Because the weight of all that ice matter.

    • "This" does not assume anything but a particular study. It's you who are presuming assumption.

    • by idji ( 984038 )
      and how much volume of the Island remains above sea level? that may have gone down.
    • These atoll dwelling critters are a bunch of whining bowheads. They just need to put their villages up on stilts. Plenty of folks in South East Asia do that:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      Tourists love to stay in those waterworld resorts, so a foreign investor would probably bankroll it.

      Additionally, they could just accept a super-container ship full of junk cars, and dump them on the atoll. Add a healthy tanker full of coral fertilizer and steroids from Monsanto, and the cars will be beautiful ree

    • by HiThere ( 15173 )

      OTOH, at times in the past Atolls have grown when the sea rose (or the land subsided) because of increased coral growth. I have no idea, however, how rapidly that happened.

      So someone ought to look for that. Probably, of course, far enough from the equator that the coral won't be experiencing bleaching events.

  • Are you sure? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Have you already tried altering the original data? Maybe by photoshopping the picture of the island so that it's smaller after all. That seems to be the generally accepted go-to plan when data doesn't support the worst-case scenario. (I'm referring, of course, to the satellite temperature measurements being altered because they don't show warming. That was after ground temperature measurements were altered.... Whoops, forgot to save the original data, guess you'll just have to trust us!)

    • Hey, now.... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Slugster ( 635830 )
      People don't remember what a scam "climate change" really is... -and don't like being reminded...

      A brief recap:
      There have been wild predictions of "runaway greenhouse effects" and of "new ice ages", back-and-forth, for 35+ years now.
      The people making these claims have been consistently wrong, within just one or two years of making their great predictions.

      So then they got the bright idea to change to warning of "climate change", so then they don't need to predict what will happen at all... They want yo
  • Build up in sediment beaches is not sustainable land.
    Literally here today, gone tomorrow (well sometime soon in the future).
    Totally bogus conclusion.
    This is a new twist on climate denial.
    If the authors are so confident they should be buying land in Tuvalu, everyone there is trying to sell to get out.
    the story is BULL$#1T
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Scientists say it's growing. Slashdot troll trolls.

      Or we could cherry pick and only listen to scientists when they say what matches our religious beliefs.

      • by HiThere ( 15173 )

        Actually, I would bet that what they said is that "it has been growing", which is a very different statement.

        OTOH, I do wonder is there is a lot of new area suitable for the growth of coral, which would create a barrier reef around the atoll. Of course, this assumes that Tuvalu is far enough from the equator that the water doesn't get too warm for the corals. And I also wonder how fast that would happen.

    • If GW alarmists want to use Tortuga as a poster boy case because "sea levels in the country rose at twice the global average," then GW deniers can use Tortuga as a poster boy case for islands growing faster than they're sinking.

      If you try to sway public opinion by using extreme and corner cases to alarm them, then it's hypocritical to cry foul when extreme and corner cases are used to refute you. Stick to using median and mean data and you won't have this problem.
  • Size doesn't matter (Score:5, Informative)

    by neonfrog ( 442362 ) on Saturday February 10, 2018 @08:00AM (#56099749)
    If the ring is growing in thickness because coral is being dredged from outside the ring and then deposited on the inside of the ring by more frequent king tides that wash right over the ring, then perhaps those living right on the ring don't care about the size so much. They may care more about their thin soil being lost, salinated, and replaced by coral beach. Yes, having more surface area allows for more mitigation measures to be tried, but it is still a hard battle being fought because of sea level rise.
  • by Hentes ( 2461350 ) on Saturday February 10, 2018 @08:20AM (#56099809)

    These islands don't happen to be just above the water by pure chance, but because coral reefs grow until they hit the surface and then stop. When the sea level rises, the reefs will grow to match it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Unless coral bleaching kills the reef before that can happen

    • by swillden ( 191260 ) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Saturday February 10, 2018 @09:57AM (#56100057) Homepage Journal

      These islands don't happen to be just above the water by pure chance, but because coral reefs grow until they hit the surface and then stop. When the sea level rises, the reefs will grow to match it.

      Eventually. But coral reefs grow very slowly, so it could be that rising sea levels will outpace reef growth and the island will sink for a few thousand years, then reappear. Also, it may take time for corals to adapt to rising temperatures and declining pH levels, further delaying reef growth.

      • by jhecht ( 143058 ) on Saturday February 10, 2018 @10:55AM (#56100213)
        What's going on is complex. Sand is being moved around a lot, as usually happens. Look at the smaller islands in Figure 3 of the (open-access) paper and you can see the above-surface part of small islands actually moves around. The sand-only islands are shrinking on average, but those with gravel are growing, probably because they catch sand being washed around. The living reefs are growing. Overall, it's encouraging for the near term, but the authors say it is not clear if the islands can continue to maintain their sizes with the faster sea level rise of 7.4 mm/year expected in some future scenarios.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, but it depends on the rates. Reefs also drown in such settings if they can't keep up with the pace of sea level rise or subsidence. There are many examples of seamounts (peaks below sea level) with coral reef deposits on top of them that are hundreds of metres below where the reefs can actually grow anymore. These are examples of situations where the seamount used to be an ocean island but sank beneath the waves faster than the corals could grow upwards.

      An additional factor is coral bleaching events

    • Exactly. The whole 'global sea level rise means island nations will drown' narrative is fake news.

      It's more complicated than that

      https://news.nationalgeographi... [nationalgeographic.com]

  • NOOO! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    You meab California won't be sucked into the ocean after all?

  • Sure, in some places the sea level is dropping, but in others it is rising much more. You have to look at the global picture! ;-)

  • Tuvalu (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by Kevin108 ( 760520 )

    Rye aye, and we can sing just like our fathers. Come on, Eileen.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This video discusses the research about atolls (Tuvalu is referenced around the 7:00 mark):

    Climate Change -- Hurricanes, atolls and coral [youtube.com]

    HINT: This was a video published in late November 2010.

  • by Dasher42 ( 514179 ) on Saturday February 10, 2018 @11:12AM (#56100289)

    Stability and agriculture are the primary concerns, not just landmass. If the ocean is washing up new sandbars from storms while the island is sinking, and there's saline intrusion into the soil, the land area can increase while the island loses its arable soil, which is going to sap the islander's means to feed and support themselves.

    So, representing this as any counter to Tuvalu's crisis is obtuse.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by WhiplashII ( 542766 )

      First, moving the bar. The previous research predicted sinking islands, this new research refutes that. The important point is that "Climate Change" hysteria is overblown, and that nature has automatic processes to lessen the effects of the change.

      Second, how much "agriculture" was going on previously? Are you saying that previously, there was no salt at all, and their major export was grain?

      I grew up on a tropical island. It has always rained salt during the storms. Many plants can't grow because of that,

    • by HiThere ( 15173 )

      Well, I think coconut trees can grow right on the beach, so that's something. And I hear that in places mangrove trees even grow out into the ocean.
      OTOH, it probably takes a whole bunch of coconut trees to support one person (and that would require trading off the island) and I don't know what the economic utility of mangroves is. But they do require fresh water to reduce the salinity, and an underlying layer of mud.

  • how does sea level rise at twice the global average? I am no ocean or water flow expert so happy for someone to explain it to me, but surely the ocean depth, especially in non isolated areas like Tuvalu would have a consistent sea level with the rest of the pacific?
  • So, if carbon emissions are reduced or somehow mitigated, global warming will be reversed, and the land area of those island groups will get smaller?

    Science Barbie says: "Science is hard."

Never ask two questions in a business letter. The reply will discuss the one you are least interested, and say nothing about the other.

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