Tuvalu is drowning, and global warming is to blame. Not.
We constantly hear how small island nations like the Marshall Islands, Vanuatu and Tuvalu will drown as sea levels rise.
Yet, this is mostly wrong.
Absolutely, there is global warming, and sea levels are rising. As I've argued many other places, we should fix that: not with expensive, wishful thinking as we're doing now, but with massive investments in green R&D.
But nobody is helped by false claims of drowning islands.
Paul Kench, a geomorphologist who now heads the University of Auckland’s School of Environment in New Zealand, was the first to question these claims. Here is the story from Science a couple of years back:
"Kench, who had been studying how atoll islands evolve over time, says he had assumed that a rising ocean would engulf the islands, which consist of sand perched on reefs. “That’s what everyone thought, and nobody questioned it,” he says. But when he scoured the literature, he could not find a single study to support that scenario."
What his studies showed instead was: "instead of eroding land, the waves would raise island elevation by depositing sand produced from broken coral, coralline algae, mollusks, and foraminifera. Kench notes that reefs can grow 10 to 15 millimeters a year—faster than the sea-level rise expected to occur later this century. “ As long as the reef is healthy and generates an abundant supply of sand, there’s no reason a reef island can’t grow and keep up,” he argues."
Remember, for example, that the Marshall Islands emerged on a reef 4800 to 4000 years ago, when sea levels were rising as fast as they are expected to rise over the next century.
Since then, Kench and colleagues have shown that most of the island nations have actually seen *increases* in their area, despite dramatic sea level rise.
And now, they show for Tuvalu, one of the global warming icons, that over the past 40 years there has been a net *increase* in land area in Tuvalu of 73.5 ha (2.9%), despite sea-level rise, and land area has increased in eight of nine atolls.
Science article: http://www.christopherpala.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/SLR-Science-as...
Here are some of his relevant articles: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921818110001013 ("86% of islands remained stable (43%) or increased in area (43%) over the timeframe of analysis")
https://pubs.geoscienceworld.org/gsa/geology/article-abstract/33/2/145/1... (The Maldives "initially formed on a foundation of lagoonal sediments between 5500 and 4500 yr B.P. when the reef surface was as much as 2.5 m below modern sea level. Islands accumulated rapidly during the following 1500 yr, effectively reaching their current di- mensions by 4000 yr B.P.")
And the new Nature study on Tuvalu: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-02954-1