Bengal Island succumbs to global warming nonsense – AP gets nutty over the loss of a sandbar

By Steven Goddard and Anthony Watts

New Moore Island in the Sunderbans has been completely submerged.

New Moore Island in the Sunderbans has been completely submerged. Photo - Das/AP

From the New York Daily News via  Associated Press reports :

Global warming resolves 30-year land dispute between India, Bangladesh: Coveted island sinks

By NIRMALA GEORGE, Associated Press Writer Nirmala George, Associated Press Writer – Wed Mar 24, 9:29 am ET

NEW DELHI – For nearly 30 years, India and Bangladesh have argued over control of a tiny rock island in the Bay of Bengal. Now rising sea levels have resolved the dispute for them: the island’s gone.

New Moore Island in the Sunderbans has been completely submerged, said oceanographer Sugata Hazra, a professor at Jadavpur University in Calcutta. Its disappearance has been confirmed by satellite imagery and sea patrols, he said. “What these two countries could not achieve from years of talking, has been resolved by global warming,” said Hazra.

Note in the map below that the island was a river estuary, meaning it wasn’t made out of rock as claimed.  It was made out of mud and sand.  From Wikipedia:

The island was situated only two kilometers from the mouth of the Hariabhanga River. The emergence of the island was first discovered by an American satellite in 1974 that showed the island to have an area of 2,500 sq meters (27,000 sq ft). Later, various remote sensing surveys showed that the island had expanded gradually to an area of about 10,000 sq meters (110,000 sq ft) at low tide, including a number of ordinarily submerged shoals. The highest elevation of the island had never exceeded two meters above sea level. [1]

The island was claimed by both Bangladesh and India, although neither country established any permanent settlement there because of the island’s geographical instability. India had reportedly hoisted the Indian flag on South Talpatti in 1981 and established a temporary base of Border Security Forces (BSF) on the island, regularly visiting with naval gunships. [3][4]

South Talpatti Island.jpg

Wikipedia Map

The AP claim (probably from Seth Borenstein) is that global warming induced sea level rise has submerged the island, and that is complete nonsense.

Let’s look at sea level trends in the region. Here’s the NOAA Tides and Currents map of the area from their interactive web site.

NOAA’s nearest tide gauge shows sea level rising in that region at 0.54 mm / year, which means that would take nearly 2000 years for sea level to rise one meter. See the plot below:

Note that since the island was first discovered in 1974, the sea level graph above shows 19.4 mm (0.76 inches) rise based on a rate of 0.54mm/year.

Sea level rise is a relative phenomenon.  It can be caused by sea rising, or land sinking.  Sort of like sitting on a train at the station, and you can’t tell if your train has started moving or the adjacent one.

Looking at a satellite image of the Bangladesh delta, one can see how tides, currents, silts, and other factors shape what is a tenuous boundary between land and sea:

Temporary estuary islands and sandbars appear and disappear all the time worldwide. Sometimes it can take a few years, sometimes a few centuries. Note that most of the area near South Talpatti  Island is only 1-3 meters above sea level anyway, which means that such low lying islands made of mud and sand are prone to the whims of tide and currents and weather.

http://www.globalwarmingart.com/images/thumb/e/ef/Bangladesh_Sea_Level_Risks.png/350px-Bangladesh_Sea_Level_Risks.png

click for larger image - Source: Global warming art

Low lying islands are modified by nature on a regular basis. For example we have Chandeleur Lighthouse in Louisiana

From USGS:

The lighthouse was situated on land until Hurricane Georges (September 28, 1998). After that the island had eroded from under the lighthouse such that the lighthouse appeared to be in open water. Since Georges, although the island had reformed behind the lighthouse, the lighthouse remained in open water. The pre-Ivan photo (August 11, 2004) shows the lighthouse in open water about 30 m from the shoreline, and the northern tip of the island was relatively broad and extended several hundred meters north of the lighthouse.

It was probably the cumulative effect of four hurricanes in 7 years that resulted in the deep erosion (evidenced by lack of shoaling) seen now after Hurricane Ivan.

And looking further back in time, islands have disappeared before: from the Sarasota Herald – May 29, 1937

While we are on the subject of islands disappearing into the Indian Ocean, even more interesting is the 2002 discovery nearby of a 9,000 year old city, submerged 36 metres off the coast of India.

==================

Excavated Harrapan remains  (Picture: North Park University)

The city is believed to predate the Harappan civilisation

Lost city ‘could rewrite history’

By BBC News Online’s Tom Housden

The remains of what has been described as a huge lost city may force historians and archaeologists to radically reconsider their view of ancient human history.

Marine scientists say archaeological remains discovered 36 metres (120 feet) underwater in the Gulf of Cambay off the western coast of India could be over 9,000 years old.

The vast city – which is five miles long and two miles wide – is believed to predate the oldest known remains in the subcontinent by more than 5,000 years.

=================

How many Hummers were they driving 9,000 years ago?  Chalk up another clueless AGW claim.  Sea level rises and/or land subsides, estuary flows change, and sandbars appear and disappear. In this case of a tiny sandbar/island near the Bangladesh delta, it  has nothing to do with global warming.


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DirkH

It’s funny how this sea level rise eats small uninhabitated islands first. As if to warn us. Tomorrow it could come back and take the UK. Or NZ. Or Madagascar. But today, only New Moore Island.
Hmmm, maybe it would have made better news if they had called the island “Ancient Moore Island”.

Peter Melia

Why should we take note of a NOAA tide-gauge history in North Eastern India, which indicates a tiny sea level rise, when they completely ignore a tide-gauge in Tasmania which has no increase at all for the last 150 years?

Gary Hladik

(sigh) Next Toyota will blame their current woes on global warming.

Ian Cooper

They should re-name it “No Moore Island.”
Sand bars and other such temporary river estuary features come and go as a result of both river flooding and storm surges. Along our coast is the remains of a ship called the Hydrabad which was blown onto our coast in 1878. Even as recently as the 1960’s (when I was a kid) people could dive off the wreck into reasonably deep water at high tide. Visiting the site today one finds the wreck mostly buried in sand above the high tide mark.
Sand dunes are living geological features. Some of the largest stretches of moving sand dunes in the southern hemisphere are along the Manawatu/Horowhnua coast line on the southern west coast of the North Island in New Zealand. If sea levels were rising at the rates claimed by those people then one would expect the Hydrabad to be surrounded by water. This is not happening. Our land mass is slowly increasing. The coast has many dozens of Km’s to go to get back to where it was during the last ice age but it is still heading outwards, and not back to the mountains as the scaremongers would have people believe.
OT, a week ago (March 18th) we experienced the coldest summer air temperature in the past 55 years (as far as the data I have goes back). The 0.5 degrees C was 0.2 lower than the Feb 22nd 2003 that previously held that record. There are NO other days apart from those two, for our southern summer ( Dec solstice to March equinox) that get below 2 degrees C in the summers from 1954-55 to now. The -3.6 degree C grass minimum and ensuing frost is some 6 to 8 weeks early by normal standards. An interesting cold season is in the offing, if this little rogue wave is anything to go by. 2003 was interesting here. A huge polar blast with heavy snow to low levels at the start of July, then virtually nothing! Only time will tell.
Cheers
Coops

Boudu

Sand bah humbug !

Thon Brocket

Two other factors are at work here. It’s likely that the Ganges Delta, like any large delta, is being isostatically depressed by the weight of deposited sediment, contributing an unequivocally non-AGW-related component to sea-level changes; and the sediments themselves will settle and consolidate as water is squeezed out and the long process of lithification into shales and mudstones begins. I have no idea what the magnitudes of these two components might be, but it seems an interesting field of inquiry.
Another problem, which is usually misreported by enviro-journalists, is over-abstraction of fresh ground-water, which in areas close to the sea “floats” as a “lens” above salt water. Over-pump it (usually for irrigation) and the salt water comes up the well-head, accompanied by AP hacks shrieking “Global warmening! The sea is rising! We’re all going to die!”.
And of course there is increased flooding due to deforestation in the Ganges-Brahmaputra catchment.
Lots of enviro-bother in the Sundarbans, true enough. None of it down to global warming, though.

Barelysane

I would appear to be slightly worse than just sloppy reporting. Here’s an article that seems to claim a paper by Hazra in 2002, claimed that 2.2 mm of the claimed p/a change was due to natural subsidence.
http://www.deccanchronicle.com/dc-comment/climate-change-hoax-sinking-island-316

Bruce of Newcastle

Deltas sink. Why else are they fishing statues out of the harbour at Alexandria? Maybe ancient Egyptian statues are a sign of CAGW, everything else seems to be.

Barelysane

Should read “It would” not “I would”, pesky early mornings.

Arizona CJ

Could someone please explain how, even *IF* global warming was real and was causing sea level rise, how the effects could be local and not global?? Water does tend to run downhill, so absent any change in land elevation, a sea level rise would be global.
Unless, of course, one of the predicted effects of global warming is localized changes in the force of gravity? 🙂

Mike McMillan

Good job digging up the back story. My compliments to the staff.

Bengal Bay sea level change:
http://climexp.knmi.nl/data/l14.png

Martin Brumby

It is only a matter of time before some troll drags in the Carteret Islands, so I may as well pitch in and get my revenge in first.
Google “Carteret Islands” and you will get yards of AGW shroudwaving from all the usual suspects. Monbiot / Grauniad, BBC / Daily Mail / Oxfam …
However, even Wikipedia has to point out that the land is sinking and why:-
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carteret_Islands

The AP fails basic science once again it seems. Sandbars and barrier Islands come and go on the whim of the wind and surf. There is a classic example of this right near where I live: The Ocean City Inlet.
Prior to 1933 the barrier island that the city of Ocean City sat on was the same island as Assateague. In 1933 a Hurricane came along and cut a wide path through the island to the Assawoman bay.

The resort is built on the southern end of Fenwick Island, one of the chain of barrier islands stretching from New York to Florida. Ocean City Inlet, which connects the quiet backwater bay with the Atlantic Ocean at the southern end of the island, was opened during the great hurricane of 1933, by storm-surge overwash from the bay side. To maintain the inlet as a navigation channel, two stone jetties were constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shortly after the storm. The jetties have stabilized the inlet, but they have drastically altered the sand-transport processes near the inlet. The net longshore drift at Ocean City is southerly; it has produced a wide beach at Ocean City north of the jetty, but Assateague Island, south of the inlet, has been starved of sediment. The result is a westerly offset of more than 500 meters in the once-straight barrier island.
http://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/c1075/conflicts.html
Can you imagine what the MSM would say today if something like that happened this summer?

The story, in it’s full alarmist glory, is carried currently in the Guardian. Interestingly, while it appears in the ‘Comment is Free’ section, there is no facility for commenting there.

Roger Knights

It’s notable that the “It’s Natural” points Steve & Anthony made — and there are more that could have been made* — were deliberately omitted from this AP New Moore Island story. This is a plain indication of bias — but since it was a sin of omission, I guess they figured no one would notice. It’s one more item in the scale to be weighed when the Day of Judgment arrives.
* E.g., by googling for:
site:wattsupwiththat.com mangrove level

son of mulder

It’s probably been washed away by the deluge of Himalayan glacier water as 2035 fast approaches;>)

Alan the Brit

So, a lump of mud, silt, sand 50m x 50m (54yds x 54yds) sitting at the mouth of a huge delta, expands over 30 years or so to 100m x 100m at low tide, (108yds x 108yds), then gets washed away. Wow, never let reality get in the way of a sensational story! Never mind, give it a few years & it will turn up again, probably in a slightly different position! (Made by aliens I expect, I’m sure I read it in one of the Sunday papers so it just has to be true).

jim hogg

Has anyone found anything that reliably supports the existence of the underwater city in the Gulf of Cambay? Looks highly unlikely on the strength of the Wiki piece and the repeated recycling of the original very “watery” claims all over the net . . . . . And a sea level rise of 120 feet seems to go beyond anything postulated by Rhodes (Fairbridge Curve) Fairbridge et al. Might be something in it for descendants of Noah though.

martyn

I claim that dune quickly in the name of Her Majes….glug….glug…teeeee.

Ryan

I love these stories. They are so utterly moronic only a complete suggestible moron could fall for this nonsense. It is like an April Fools joke played early to catch out the gullible and expose them.

Gary Hladik: “(sigh) Next Toyota will blame their current woes on global warming.”
Now you’re talking, forget global warming, this is serious stuff. I’ve just spent four days trying to replace a front headlamp on our latest Toyata. I couldn’t believe it, you needed screwdrivers, and a spanner, and even then the cover needed a crowbard to remove a cover.
Putting the headlamp cover back on required two strong people (one to pull back the windscreen washer filler funnel) and the other person to try to manoevre the cover into place.
Then the blasted thing snapped … so after reinforcing it with steel rods (screws) and alradh..??… glue, I finally got it back in place on evening number day four.
And the job would have been a lot more hassle, except we’d got the engine covers off because the headlamps fill up with water … something which they also knew about but didn’t do anything about!!
If they can’t even get changing a regular item like a headlamp right … something you should be able to do in the dark at the side of the road, if they seal their headlamps at the bottom and let the water in the top so they fill up like fishtanks, then this is the last time I’m buying a Toyota

Joe

We have as much as 50-60cm changes on Georgian Bay with thousands of Islands. Mostly rock in the area and they many minor Islands submurge to reappear after the melt and run off has raised the water levels tempererally.
I little unhabited sandbar?
Talk about sensationalism. And some people eat this garbage up.
Like governments that say look at this reference…it must be true.

It should be pointed out that this island only emerged fifty years ago-presumably formed from slt deposition. Silt islands come and go and no doubt another one is forming elsewhere i the estuary or the silt is accreting to the mainland somewhere.
Tonyb

Curiousgeorge

Isn’t there some kind of medical treatment that could be prescribed for this? Electric shock therapy or something? Maybe a straight jacket?

Anyone who has had the pleasure of travelling or living in that area would not be the least bit surprised that this so-called island disappeared. Explains where all the water from the melting Himalayan glaciers went…

Steve in SC

I remember the New Jersey took some fire from an island off the coast of Vietnam. The New Jersey returned fire and sank the island. (literally!)

Pete

Cutting down 45% of the mangroves to aid the shrimp industry probably has more effect than either land sinkage or river flow.
Bangladesh: losing mangroves to shrimp farming leads to food loss and environmental insecurity
http://www.wrm.org.uy/bulletin/144/Bangladesh.html

Chris Edwards

Its political, the island will re appear nearer one of the claimed parent coun tries!
I would say predicting sea levels is more complicated than climate, no one has plotted the bottom with any accuracy, the tectonic plate movement is erratic and fluctuations on magnetic flux change everything, nightmare to understand.
There is an island that was a sunken ship from the 1812 war with the USA in Canada, would they like to tie that in with AGW or unicorns?

I read a source that claimed the “island” was created in 1970 after a cyclone.
Yep, it’s a sand bar !!!!!!!

What the heck, here’s the souce:
http://www.banglapedia.org/httpdocs/HT/S_0503.HTM

Bernie

If only Mother Nature could solve all our border disputes so peacefully.

artwest

So in a choice between a sand bar in a river being washed away or the sea, presumably very, very locally, having suddenly risen over six feet, alarmists want us to believe the latter. That about right?

rbateman

The good news is that there’s no sandbar left to fight over.
The bad news is that the alamists will find sand where none exists to bury thier heads in.

Craigo

If indeed the sea levels continue to rise, won’t we see corresponding flooding and deposition on the flood plains of Bangladesh thus maintaining the relative levels between sea level and flood plain? Surely some of that catastrophic glacial melting will transport a smidgen of dirt toward the sea thus creating some more rocky islands in the Sunderbans?

Curiousgeorge

I’ll start worrying about sea levels when Kevin Costner starts growing gills.

There are other reasons for sea (ocean) levels rising or falling in a particular area of the globe. Indian Ocean has one of the largest negative ‘geoid anomalies’, which may well be reason for sea levels fluctuation.
http://planetearth.nerc.ac.uk/images/uploaded/custom/geoid-c2.jpg
This geoid anomaly may also be reason for the Maldives disappearing in the near future.

Allan M

The east coast of England is dissapearing too! The once major city port of Dunwich started to disappear due to the SUVs of the 13th century.

At its height Dunwich was one of the largest ports in Eastern England, with a population of around 3000, eight churches, five houses of religious orders, three chapels and two hospitals.

These must be the SUVs that caused the Medieval Warm Period.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunwich
Another case is Spurn Head in Yorkshire (Yorkshire is being eroded! Hooray!) The appearance and disappearance of Spurn Head is cyclical at ~250 years. They keep having to rebuild the road to the lighthouse even on the present version.

“Note the proximity of the farm to the cliffs, such buildings are frequently falling into the sea! The coast is eroding at between one and two metres per year and this erosion is intimately linked with the morphology of Spurn Point.”

I must accept the total blame for this, having driven my former camper van down to the end of the spur, causing sea level to rise.
http://www.fortunecity.com/greenfield/ecolodge/25/spurn.htm

b.poli

Good job! Kudos! Set Borenstein should have done this for his readers – maybe he is not qualified enough or not committed to serve the best interest of his readers.

Optimist

here’s some relevant reporting from the Sunderbans:
http://www.spectator.co.uk/essays/5749623/part_2/story-of-a-sinking-land.thtml

Just for the heck of it, I posted this comment on the Yahoo News site linked above:

WattsUpWithThat is having great fun with the AP’s naivete and agenda-mongering. Delta islands and sandbars come and go all the time (this one just appeared 50 years ago) with tides, sedimentation, storms, currents, etc., and tidal gauges show no sea-level rise. It has nothing to do with ‘global warming’. See here:
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/03/25/bengal-island-succumbs-to-global-warming-nonsense-ap-gets-nutty-over-loss-of-a-sandbar/#more-17685

/Mr Lynn

Curiousgeorge (04:31:29) :
I’ll start worrying about sea levels when Kevin Costner starts growing gills.
———————————————————-
I’ll start worrying when Kevin Costner makes another movie.

JohnB

@Jim Hogg.
The city exists and photos have been taken. (As well as other samples.) The Indians are seeing a lot of resistance from the establishment because the city rewrites the history books. The current consensus is that civilisation arose in the fertile cresent of the Middle East and this city is a direct challenge to that.
By it’s depth, we can reasonably assume that the last Ice Age was still going when the city was founded, so a rise of 120 ft when going from a full glacial period to an interglacial isn’t out of the expected range. By it’s size, we can tell that it wasn’t somebodys first attempt at city building, they had had a lot of practice by the time the submerged city was founded. This pushes the beginnings of the founding civilisation further back into the glacial period.
Certain references in Vedic literature suggests that it was written during the last full Ice Age, which might imply a connection.
The bottom line is that should such a city exist, then it becomes likely that civilisation did not arise in the ME or Europe and spread from there, but was rather imported from a much older Indian civilisation. This concept is an affront to many in the establishment.

john ratcliffe

It is (or was)a sandbar in an estuary. Sandbars in estuaries appear and disappear as part of the natural evolution of the estuary.
The argument between estuary India and Bangladesh over sovereignty reminds me of a similar spat over a small island called Perejil (Parsley in English) between Spain and Morocco back in 2002. The island lies 250 metres of the coast of Morocco, and is claimed by Spain. A brief description of events is at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perejil_Island_crisis
An amusing little episode.

Curiousgeorge

@ JohnB (05:29:04) : So the sea level rise back then must have been caused by all those SUV’s ( Sport Utility Vimana’s ) 🙂

Fred from Canuckistan

A Rock for the Ages, done in by a meandering thalweg.
Pity. Geomorphology used to be an honest science.

Al Gore's Holy Hologram

There’s a tide-guage in Mumbai next to the Gateway of India monument which has been compared to its appearance in paintings from the Victorian era. No perceptible change from more than 150 years.

RockyRoad

Are you sure this piece didn’t first appear in The National Enquirer?

Aelfrith

Looking at the picture you start this piece with the one thing that strikes me is the trees are still there, which means the island is still there. It hasn’t been washed away or the trees would have floated off.
My guess is the photo was taken at a particularly high Spring Tide, possibly with a storm surge or melt surge added in and the story itself is just hokum and smoke.
Perhaps someone would like to look for it at low tide.

fred wisse

How about the islands and mountains that have been created in or near Iceland during the recent years ? Surely here the cause was global warming as well ! The sediments were overhotted and it just so happened that there were no adequate temperature recording-stations set up in the area to register the proof of this robust global warming . Anyway the heating here is undeniable .