4 Feb 2011

Pacific climate change bringing more flooding

7:49 am on 4 February 2011

A climate change summit in American Samoa has been told that sea levels in parts of the Pacific are rising rapidly.

More than 100 local and off island scientists, policy makers, educators and students are taking part in the two-day event that's aimed at establishing a climate change framework for local communities.

The keynote speaker, from the University of Hawaii, says tide gauges and satellite imagery show Guam and Kwadjalein in the Marshall Islands are in the heart of the area where sea levels are rising.

Dr Charles Fletcher says accelerating trade winds are thought to be responsible for the rise, which began in the early 1990s.

"So Pacific island climate is changing, and in Hawaii we've seen a 15 percent decrease in our rainfall, air temperature has increased, it's increasing higher or faster in the high elevations and it's leading to an increase in avian malaria as the mosquito population is able to migrate up into the higher elevations. Rain storm intensity has increased. Even though there's less rain, when it does rain it's more intense and this leads to more flash flooding, landsliding and a host of other problems."

The University of Hawaii's Dr Charles Fletcher speaking at a climate change summit in American Samoa that finishes today.