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Maldives & most Pacific-Indian Ocean islands expanding, not sinking, scientists reveal

No Tricks Zone blog

A global-scale analysis of 221 islands in the tropical Pacific and Indian Oceans reveals “a predominantly stable or accretionary trend in the area of atoll islands worldwide” throughout the 21st century. The Maldives islands alone expanded by 37.5 km² from 2000 to 2017.

For over 3 decades we’ve been warned “entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed.”

But reality keeps on undermining this catastrophist narrative.

A 2019 global-scale analysis of 709 islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans revealed 89% were either stable or growing in size, and that no island larger than 10 ha (and only 1.2% of islands larger than 5 ha) had decreased in size since the 1980s (Duvat, 2019).

And now a new analysis of post-2000 trends also indicates global-scale stable to expanding shorelines for hundreds of Pacific and Indian Ocean islands, with over half of the net growth (39 km² of 62 km²) occurring from 2013 to 2017.

Holdaway et al., 2021

Between the oldest (1999–2001 or 1999–2002) and most recent (2017) composite images, the land area on the 221 atolls examined increased by 61.74 km² from 1007.60 km² to 1069.35 km², a 6.1 % increaseMost of this increase, 38.89 km², occurred between 2013 and 2017. The global-scale change in atoll island landmass was largely a product of an increase of island area in the Maldives and South China Sea (SCS), which account for 54.05 km² (87.56 %) of the global increase in land area. Between 1999–2001 and 2017, the Maldives added 37.50 km² of land area, representing 60.74 % of the net global increase in atoll land area. Tokelau and Tuvalu, both small landmasses (9.65 km2 and 25.14 km²respectively), both increased by ∼7%, while the Marshalls, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Palau, Chagos and the Federated States of Micronesia all changed by less than 3%. At the national-scale French Polynesia and Palau were the only countries for which a net decrease in land area was observed (-1.46 km² or -0.48 % and -0.16 km² or -2.71 % respectively).”

Image Source: Holdaway et al., 2021

Two other separately-published studies by a team of scientists  (Sengupta et al., 2021 and Sengupta et al., 2021) use aerial photographs dating to the 1940s (and 1960s and 1970s) of 104 and 71 reef islands in the equatorial Pacific (Micronesia, Gilbert Islands) to compare shoreline changes over time.

The scientists found there has been a net shoreline expansion of 3% and 2.45%, respectively, in the 104 and 71 islands analyzed in the last 50 to 75 years.

Once again, none of these studies support claims of catastrophic sea level rise engulfing island coasts as a consequence of global warming.

Sengupta et al., 2021

This study presents an analysis of shoreline changes on 104 coral reef islands from 16 atolls in the western equatorial Pacific nation of the Federated States of Micronesia across a period coincident with rising local sea level and a high frequency of storm events. Aerial photographs from the mid-1940s and 1970s were analysed alongside recent high-resolution satellite imagery to document shoreline changes and planform morphological adjustments in islands. Results revealed accretion has been the predominant mode of shoreline change, with 46% of the studied shorelines showing statistically significant accretion leading to a net increase of 64.37 ha (~3%) of planform land area across the archipelago.”

Image Source: Sengupta et al., 2021

Sengupta et al., 2021

Shoreline positions of 71 islands from 3 atolls and 4 mid-ocean reef platforms were analysed by comparing historical aerial photographs (from 1940s and 1960s) and recent satellite imagery covering a period of local sea-level rise rate of ~2.2 mm/year. Results show ~47% of the shorelines were characterised by statistically significant accretion leading to a net increase of 274.07 ha (2.45%) of planform land area.”

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