Tropical Islands Are Growing

Even as sea levels are rising about an inch a decade since 1880, the majority of ocean islands thought to be in danger of sinking are actually growing.

Even as sea levels are rising about an inch a decade since 1880, the many ocean island archipelagoes thought to be in danger of sinking are actually growing.

This is a picture of one of the Maldives Islands. The majority of them have added more land. It seems that the ocean is washing more coral and sand up, which is growing the islands. There are more Maldives islands that are growing than are shrinking.

There are many peer reviewed (that is where other knowledgeable “qualified” people read it and say it is ok) studies that say the same thing for many different islands groupings.

Source for map and information about Tuvalu:

Sources about growing Islands:

‘Sinking’ Pacific nation is getting bigger: study

“The study findings may seem counter-intuitive, given that (the) sea level has been rising in the region over the past half century, but the dominant mode of change over that time on Tuvalu has been expansion, not erosion.”

Sea level rise may not drown low-lying Pacific atolls

They found that the highest part of the island actually got higher as rising sea levels and strong wave action washed sand and gravel toward it. They say this shows the islands may be more resilient than we thought as they may be able to change shape to adapt to the climate.”

“Media Release

From: University of Auckland

Pacific atolls can adapt to rising seas and extreme storms – new study”

Patterns of island change and persistence offer alternate adaptation pathways for atoll nations

“Island change has lacked uniformity with 74% increasing and 27% decreasing in size. Results challenge perceptions of island loss, showing islands are dynamic features that will persist as sites for habitation over the next century, presenting alternate opportunities for adaptation that embrace the heterogeneity of island types and their dynamics.”

The dynamic response of reef islands to sea-level rise: Evidence from multi-decadal analysis of island change in the Central Pacific

Using historical aerial photography and satellite images this study presents the first quantitative analysis of physical changes in 27 atoll islands in the central Pacific over a 19-to-61-year period. This period of analysis corresponds with instrumental records that show a rate of sea-level rise of 2.0 mm year− 1 in the Pacific. Results show that 86% of islands remained stable (43%) or increased in area (43%) over the timeframe of analysis. Largest decadal rates of increase in island area range between 0.1 to 5.6 ha. Only 14% of study islands exhibited a net reduction in island area.


Coral islands defy sea-level rise over the past century: Records from a central Pacific atoll

“The geological stability and existence of low-lying atoll nations is threatened by sea-level rise and climate change. Funafuti Atoll, in the tropical Pacific Ocean, has experienced some of the highest rates of sea-level rise (5.1 (.20 inches) ± 0.7 (.028 inches) mm/year), totaling ∼0.30 (about 11.81 inches) ± 0.04 m (1.57 inches) over the past 60 years.

We analyzed six time slices of shoreline position over the past 118 years at 29 islands of Funafuti Atoll to determine their physical response to recent sea-level rise. Despite the magnitude of this rise, no islands have been lost, the majority have enlarged, and there has been a 7.3% increase in net island area over the past century (A.D. 1897–2013). There is no evidence of heightened erosion over the past half-century as sea-level rise accelerated. Reef islands in Funafuti continually adjust their size, shape, and position in response to variations in boundary conditions, including storms, sediment supply, as well as sea level. Results suggest a more optimistic prognosis for the habitability of atoll nations and demonstrate the importance of resolving recent rates and styles of island change to inform adaptation strategies.”

The ocean is dynamic and changing all the time. So are the islands. Some are shrinking, the majority are growing. They are all changing all the time.

Islands are different than continental land. We will cover that in another post.