Coral Islands will grow in response to the increase in global sea level

Ecologists came to the conclusion that coral Islands will be able to adapt to the increase in global sea level associated with climate change. They built the model showed that the surrounding the land of water will carry the sand upward, thus increasing the height of the ridge of the island and not allowing him to sink. Article published in Science Advances.

Coral Islands formed as a result of life of reef-building organisms are considered to be one of the most vulnerable coastal environments to sea-level rise. According to forecasts, due to floods they may become uninhabitable within several decades. However, in the new work, the researchers showed that, perhaps, coral Islands will be able to adapt to future changes.

Gerd Masselink (Gerd Masselink), University of Plymouth and his colleagues have built a physical model of the island Potato, which is part of the Atoll of Funafuti, at a scale of 1:50 to analyze the morphological adaptation of reef Islands. Researchers in the laboratory performed a series of experiments in which simulated the predicted increase in global sea level.

It turned out that coral island, consisting of sand will be transformed, but their surface will remain above the water. With increasing global sea level by 0.5 meters island crest (highest point) increased by 0.6 meters during the retreat of the lagoon 25 meters. It happened due to the fact that the waves, whose height is gradually growing, raised from the coastal areas of sedimentary material. When they broke over the island, the sand settled on the land, thus increasing the height of the ridge Patato and not allowing him to escape under water.

Obtained in the laboratory results, the scientists confirmed using a numerical model. They checked, how will the coral island to adapt to increased global sea level by 0.75 meters, which, according to one of the predictions that could happen in the year 2100. A simulation in which the height of the ocean was slow, showed that the height of the ridge Potato will increase by 0.7 meters, which will allow the island to remain above water for some time. In the case of a sharper rise in global sea level, the crest has managed to grow only 0.3 meters, so the speed in this case can play a critical role.

According to the authors, the understanding of how the island will change as a result of sea level rise, to help island communities better prepare for the impacts of climate change. Today, the major strategies include coastal fortifications or migration to other, more comfortable regions.

Global warming makes people increasingly relocate to have access to water and food, and to avoid natural disasters. Read more about who are the climate migrants and what regions are dangerous, read in the material “ourselves not local”.

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