12 Apr 2013

Study says sea-level rise in Pacific quicker than thought

5:21 pm on 12 April 2013

A new study by the US Geological Survey indicates low-lying atolls in the Pacific Ocean will likely be inundated by sea water sooner than previously anticipated due to global warming.

Researchers studied Midway Atoll and Laysan Island in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument for their report.

Both places have landforms and coastal features common to many low-lying islands in the Pacific.

Earlier research suggested the atolls would remain above sea level for the next 50 to 150 years.

But an oceanographer, Curt Storlazzi of the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Centre, says by taking storm wind and wave action models into account, they can forecast that rising sea levels will affect the islands much sooner.

Mr Storlazzi says many of the atolls will be inundated, contaminating freshwater supplies and thus making the islands uninhabitable.

The study didn't give specific dates.