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Vanishing islands

Vanishing islands
VIBRANT IMAGE STUDIO/SHUTTERSTOCK

Sadly, rising sea levels present a serious danger to all sorts of natural features – including islands. And though it may seem like a slow process, it could very well cause several islands throughout the world to be completely gone before the 21st century is over. And rising water is just one of many scary things that could happen if the glaciers continue to melt.

Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands
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The Solomon Islands, a group of nearly 1,000 islands and atolls in the South Pacific, are slowly being taken over by the sea. In fact, the sea level has risen by around 8 millimetres per year since 1993. It is rising so fast that the provincial capital of Choiseul is just over two metres about sea level, and a new town is being built for residents to relocate. According to a 2016 paper published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, five reef islands have already disappeared, and several villages that had stood since 1935 were destroyed on other islands with receding shorelines.

Sadly, coral reefs are also breathtaking places you need to visit before they disappear.

Maldives

Maldives
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The popular and beautiful Maldives, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean that’s home to many lush resorts and even a variety of underwater hotels, are also slowly being covered by the ocean. According to the CIA, the low elevation of the islands makes them sensitive to the sea level rising. The World Bank says that at the current projections of sea level rise, the entire country could be underwater by the year 2100. In 2009, the country’s president held a meeting under water in an attempt to bring attention to the impending disaster.

Here are 15 places that have been ruined by tourism. 

Palau

Palau
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A paper published in collaboration between the Palau National Weather Service Office and the Pacific Climate Change Science Program says that the sea level has risen in Palau, located in the South Pacific, by about 9mm per year since 1993, about three times the global average. It is expected to continue to rise by up to 61cm by the year 2090. Public Radio International reports that residents say their yards are flooding during some full moon high tides and are considering moving to a new country. The island’s famous non-stinging jellyfish are even disappearing, which may also be due to climate change.

Micronesia

Micronesia
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Micronesia is a country made up of 607 islands located 4025 kilometres southwest of Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean. Its mere 435 square kilometres of land are filled with mountains, mangroves, lagoons and beaches. Due to increasing sea levels, the nation has seen several islands disappear within recent memory, while others have been severely reduced in size, according to the Journal of Coastal Conservation.

A cruise is a great way to see islands. Here are 24 secrets cruise liners won’t tell you. 

Fiji

Fiji
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The Pacific Islands of Fiji are also low-lying and vulnerable to changes in ocean levels. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change says that the village of Vunidogoloa was the first to begin relocating because of the rapid sea level rise, which is continuing to worsen. A World Bank report says over the last few decades, some villages have reported a loss of 15-20 metres of shoreline due to loss of mangroves. Sea levels are expected to rise up to 43 centimetres by 2050, according to the report. Rises in ocean temperatures also affect the coral reefs, resulting in coral bleaching that turns the coral white and vulnerable to disease.

Here are five unforgettable Fiji experiences to try. 

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Tuvalu

Tuvalu
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The Prime Minister of Tuvalu, a remote South Pacific nation, has stated that “sea level rise and more severe weather events loom as a growing threat to our entire population.” The Tuvalu government says it’s one of the most vulnerable places on Earth to the impact of rising sea levels, which could bring complete disaster to its 10,000 residents.

Seychelles

Seychelles
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Off the east coast of Africa, the Seychelles are experiencing an unprecedented rise in sea levels compared to the last 6,000 years, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. With around 85 percent of the country’s development sitting on coastlines, rising sea levels can be catastrophic. The Seychelles News Agency reports that just a one-metre rise could cover many of its low-lying islands and inhabited coastal areas, which would be a 70 percent loss of its land mass. Mangrove forests and coral reefs are also at severe risk.

Kiribati

Kiribati
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There’s a plan to move everyone who lives on this island in the central Pacific completely off due to increasing water levels. The president of Kiribati, an independent republic, looked to buy land in Fiji in 2012 as “climate change insurance” for the island’s population. The president was quoted as saying, “moving won’t be a matter of choice. It’s basically going to be a matter of survival.” He has said his country will become uninhabitable by 2050.

Cook Islands

Cook Islands
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Described by its tourism board as “like Hawaii was 50 years ago,” the Cook Islands off of New Zealand are another set of islands affected by rising sea levels. With a predicted increase in ocean levels of up to 55 centimetres by the year 2090, the rising waters are expected to damage roads, bridges, ports and runways, which will affect residents and tourism.

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