From the “we told you so” department, WUWT Reader Paul Carter says in Tips and Notes:
A new study shows that Pacific Islands are resilient to sea level changes.
“Dynamic atolls give hope that Pacific Islands can defy sea rise”
A study by Paul Kench, Professor, School of Environment at University of Auckland.
“It is widely predicted that low-lying coral reef islands will drown as a result of sea-level rise, leaving their populations as environmental refugees. But new evidence now suggests that these small islands…”
Yes, we told you all about this right here on WUWT back in 2010 in an essay titled “Floating Islands” by Willis Eschenbach. Willis wrote then:
Regarding atolls and sea level rise, the most important fact was discovered by none other than Charles Darwin. He realized that coral atolls essentially “float” on the surface of the sea. When the sea rises, the atoll rises with it. They are not solid, like a rock island. They are a pile of sand and rubble. There is always material added and material being lost. Atolls exist in a delicate balance between new sand and coral rubble being added from the reef, and atoll sand and rubble being eroded by wind and wave back into the sea or into the lagoon. As sea level rises, the balance tips in favor of sand and rubble being added to the atoll. The result is that the atoll rises with the sea level.
Figure 2. Typical cross section through a coral atoll. The living coral is in the ring between the dotted green line and the beach. The atoll used for the photo in this example is Tepoto Atoll, French Polynesia.
Darwin’s discovery also explained why coral atolls occur in rings as in Fig. 2 above. They started as a circular inshore coral reef around a volcanic rock island. As the sea level rose, flooding more and more of the island, the coral grew upwards. Eventually the island was drowned by the rising sea levels, and all that is left is the ring of reef and coral atolls.
Coral atolls have proven over thousands of years that, if left alone, they can go up with the sea level. And if we follow some simple conservation practices, they can continue to do so and to support atoll residents. But they cannot survive an unlimited population increase, or unrestricted overfishing, or overpumping the water lens, or unrestrained coral mining. Those are what is killing the atolls, not the same sea level rise that we’ve had for the last hundred years.
Read it all here: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/01/27/floating-islands/
Someone in the comments asked about priority regarding the ideas in my 2010 post.
The person to claim priority for noticing the dynamic nature of atolls is Charles Darwin. Amazingly, he discovered the dynamic nature of coral atolls before he had ever seen one.
However, in terms of priority for my 2010 post, I’d have to cite my 2004 paper in Energy and Environment, the journal that alarmists love to hate on. It was published as a “Viewpoint”, and as such, unlike my other two articles in E&E, this one was not peer-reviewed.
In that study, I traced the origins of the atoll hysteria to a 2003 Sierra Club article. That article is ground zero for the “coral atoll climate refugee we’re all DOOOOMED” meme. What I found was previous research showing that the atoll they said was dying from climate change was actually being eroded because in World War II the protecting outer reef had been cut through.
Finding that previous research showing the actual reason their poster child island was being reshaped was a formative experience for me. That study totally blew the Sierra Club BS out of the water.
Nor is the current study the first recent notice by scientists of the dynamic nature of atolls. See my other post on the subject, “The Irony, It Burns” …