The effects of global warming - Carteret Atoll

The effects of global warming - Carteret Atoll
Where is Carteret Atoll?
The Carteret Islands are located 86 km (53 miles) north east
of Bougainville in the South Pacific. The atoll is made up of
low-lying islands called Han, Jangain, Yesila, Yolasa and Piul,
in a horseshoe shape stretching 30 km (19 miles) in north and
south direction, with a total land area of 0.6 square kilometers
and a maximum elevation of 1.5 m (5 ft) above sea level.
What problems is Carteret Atoll facing?
The most recent prevailing problems which the small islands are facing are the rapid
rising of seal levels. Further problems are caused through the islands low lying nature.
Recent research to seek the primary cause of the problem has led to findings from
Australia's National Tidal Facility, a specialist centre based in Adelaide, has for the past
decade monitored sea-level changes across the Pacific, but said it does not have
enough long range data to explain what might be occurring with certainty. Their tidemeasuring station on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island, 1,100 km west of the atolls,
has measured an annual 8.2 mm rise in sea-levels over the past seven years.
The Solomon Islands station, 750 km to the south, has recorded an annual 6.2 mm rise
over the past eight years. Nauru, 1200 km northeast, has recorded 5.6 mm per year over
nine years.
How may the problems of Carteret atoll be linked with the effects of Global Warming?
It has been suggested by numerous scientists that from numerous sea level readings
which span seven years that, salt water intrusion is becoming a growing problem and
appears to be a result of climate change induced sea-level rise mixed with the natural
variation in elevation of atolls. This natural movement or variation in islands intensifies
the vulnerability of Carteret atoll to the climate change impacts of sea-level rise because
it allows salt water intrusion during times of storm surge behind houses and gardens.
What is the major uncertainty that these problems are caused by climate change?
Some scientists rule out the possible cause of melting polar ice caps giving rise to a
significant increase of sea levels. They say that the area is at a junction of the
Australasian-Indian tectonic plates, which produce a large number of major earthquakes.
The experts believe the quakes are responsible for the sinking of some islands and the
rising of others. These contradictory claims from both sides are causing uncertainty
about the cause of the problems which Carteret is facing.
Naveen Pillai
The impacts of Carteret Atoll
The increasing sea levels and variations in the island’s elevation above sea level is
causing numerous, serious arising problems with the physical environment of Carteret
Atoll. Regular high tides of 1 to 2 meters high are causing catastrophic damage to plants
and trees surrounding the islands, also large amounts of sediment are being deposited
by the high tides. Other environmental problems include the destruction of animal
habitats and the formation of a swamp caused by the high tides, which is giving rise to
many mosquitoes.
Due to the rapidly rising sea levels which is submerging the islands, and posing serious
hazards to the living standards of the locals the option to relocate to a neighboring
island, which is not in risk of flooding has been opted for. The island is called Timputz,
Bougainville. The direct economic impact is the cost of relocating which is six million
Kina (2 million dollars), this is a large sum of money for the islanders to source. Other
economic issues is persuading or encouraging those people with valuable skills to move.
The problems which Carteret Atoll is facing have induced numerous social problems,
these include: due to the increased number of mosquitoes brought by the high tides
many of the local children are suffering malaria, this is affecting school work and could
also cause a population drop due to increased fatality, as a result of the minimal food
available, adults and children often go hungry with children finding it difficult to
concentrate at school.
Naveen Pillai
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