3 Jun 2010

Pacific islands found to be growing - not sinking

9:12 pm on 3 June 2010

Climate scientists are surprised at findings showing that many low-lying Pacific islands are growing, not sinking.

Islands in Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Federated States of Micronesia are among those that have grown, largely due to coral debris, land reclamation and sediment.

The findings, published in the magazine New Scientist, were gathered by comparing changes to 27 Pacific islands during the past 20 to 60 years using historical aerial photos and satellite images.

Associate Professor Paul Kench of Auckland University says the results challenge the view that Pacific islands are sinking due to rising sea levels associated with climate change.

He says 80% of the islands examined in the study, either remained about the same or become larger, by up to 30%.