We hear a lot from some of the Pacific Island officials and from Australian officials about sea level rises caused by AGW. I thought I might put together a few “little discussed” facts and thoughts about this issue.
1. Tuvalu has been a poster Island for the IPCC. This poor nation of people are going to drown and it is all our C02 polluting fault!!! Well, have a read of some recent History of sea level recording at Tuvalu. Dr Vincent Gray gives a history lesson on sea level recording at Tuvalu. Seems it took quite a lot of playing around with the data recording, collection and manipulation to get it just right (for the IPCC). Needless to say rising sea levels are not the problem in Tuvalu.
2. Sea levels in the Pacific vary predominantly due to the PDO and the 18 year tidal cycle, (of which was highest in 2009), and over the longer term have shown little or no level rise. Graphic scenes of waves crashing over sea walls or invading inland gives the impression that this happens all the time. Many of these atolls are very low lying and periodically flood from king tides and or hurricanes. Comparisons on the sizes of many of these Islands actually show they are growing, not shrinking. Erosion certainly is a problem on many Islands but this usually balanced out by increases in other parts of the Island caused by storms and wind pushing more broken coral onto land. Read this for the NZ research on Island sizes.
3. Population rise in many of the Pacific Islands has put a large strain on ground water use and has increased other negative human impacts. One of the main pieces of “evidence” of sea level rise is the invasion of sea water into the fresh water lens. This is clearly from over use and not sea level rise. Read here for some clarity. Population levels on Tuvalu before 1900 were never above 3,000, whereas currently the population is around 10,000. Read this history on Tuvalu for some more background.
4. One thing that has been observed in the Atolls, is how they are formed. “According to Darwin, the atoll was the result of the gradual sinking of a volcanic island that has long since cooled, leaving behind an open crater in the middle section of the island. As the island begins to sink, the surrounding territory of the island falls beneath the surface of the water. At the same time, the coral reef that is found around the fringes of the island remains and gradually is built up through the natural practice of the accumulation of marine organisms that become part of the reef. This creates a barrier reef around the remaining section of the island, forming the perfect conditions for the development of a lagoon. Once the lagoon is formed and is more or less encircled by the barrier reef, an atoll is the final product of this gradual metamorphosis.” So, it appears Island Atolls are mostly coral reefs built on top of eroded and subsidising volcanoes. some Islands will eventually return to the sea as part of it’s natural cycle. Now this process obviously takes a long, long time, and we are seeing just one part of this process. Volcanic Islands have an Island life cycle Many will eventually return to the sea.
Most media outlets love to show the “dire” state of the Islands with dramatic scenes of invading waves, along with the distraught Islanders talking of losing their homes and country. Why is it they believe man made C02 is causing the so called sea level rises. Could it be that they, along with the vast majority of the world has been “sucked in” to the AGW farce, or is it that they see the $$ they could get from more prosperous C02 “polluting” countries. Either way the facts just do not support their case. From erosion from wind, waves and the recent peak of the 18 year tidal cycle, to over use of ground water and to over fishing of coral crunching parrot fish. Then there is the many recent papers supporting evidence that actually shows that C02 is not responsible for atmospheric temperature rises and therefore not responsible for sea level rises. See here and here.
I have to add too that the coral base on which most of the Islands are built in many cases are actually many hundreds of metres deep, suggesting that the coral reefs have grown vertically with major sea level rises in the past, or from the subsidising volcano. Either way the Islands have survived due the growing reefs feeding into the Islands land base irrespective of how much the sea rises or the Island subsides. The coral itself can grow in ideal conditions upto 4.5cm per year, or in least ideal conditions, 0.5cm per year. This fact alone when compared to the suggested rises in sea level of 1 to 3 mm per year clearly shows that the coral can easily outgrow the current pace of reported rises.
So, are the Islands in trouble from AGW induced sea level rises? Most probably no. Are they in trouble because of over population drawing too much fresh water from the “lens”, and over fishing the reef fish and taking coral? Most likely. Most often the simplest explanation is the correct one.
Update comment from WUWT
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