Climate change means rising sea levels. This is a danger that is especially dangerous for coastal cities and islands. Many are blaming global warming for flooding that has already occurred in some South Pacific island nations.
The Marshall Islands and Solomon Islands were all affected by flooding. Reports also indicated that Vanuatu was also affected by rising waters.
“(The) government of the Federated States of Micronesia has been made aware of extensive saltwater inundation across the nation’s islands as a result of ongoing king tides and storm surges,” President David Panuelo said in a statement.
“The government has received numerous requests from citizens asking for support.”
Majuro, the capital of Marshall Islands, was flooded by seawater that pushed over boulders and covered sections of road leading to the airport. It reached a depth of 50 cm (20 inches) before receding.
Solomon Islands police have warned residents to stay clear of swollen rivers or streams.
Murray Ford, climate researcher, said that the flooding in Marshalls was caused by bad weather, high tides and a La Nina weather pattern. He also pointed out that there had been a long-term rise of sea levels, which is widely linked to global warming.
“An event like this would have been relatively innocuous in the 1990s, but the sea level is notably higher today than back then,” the Auckland University academic told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
“Sea level rise is increasing the frequency and magnitude of these sorts of events.”
Ford stated that Majuro’s early 1990s tidal-monitoring equipment showed sea levels had increased by an average of 4.8 m (0.2 inches) annually.
“Unfortunately, with steady sea-level rise, these flooding events will become more frequent, more widespread, and far more severe. We must plan and prepare for this now,” said Majuro resident and former Marshall Islands chief secretary Ben Graham.
The Pacific’s low lying islands are among those most affected by climate changes, and some of them may be completely submerged by rising waters.
They are also at risk from cyclones that are stronger than ever, and droughts and flooding are becoming more frequent in the region as the weather swings between extremes.
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