Despite Rising Seas, Pacific Islands Are Growing

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A number of Pacific islands previously thought to be losing ground to rising sea levels caused by climate change have actually grown larger, according to a new report.

A study published in this week’s New Scientist magazine revealed that despite long-held fears that islands in the Pacific Ocean would be washed away in coming decades due to rising sea levels from global warming, the islands are actually responding to the threat by growing larger.

The study of 27 islands by the University of Auckland and the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission in Fiji found that over the last 60 years only four of the islands had shrunk, with the others either remaining stable or growing.

In the same period sea levels have risen by 4 feet 7 inches (120 millimeters). The reason lies in the how the islands were formed over time, the study said. As weather patterns changed, the islands appeared to respond.

Erosion of coral forms the foundation of Pacific islands and, as living coral provides a continuous supply of material, wind and wave action helps a constant build-up of debris to form on the islands.

Major weather events like cyclones serve to further add to the islands' foundations.

However the study revealed that seven of its islands have grown by an average of three percent since 1950. The study warned that rising sea levels would still be a threat in many parts of the world.