Are atolls really growing?
A recent study suggests an atoll in the Marshall Islands has grown larger over the past few decades.
Last two weeks we talked about climate change and the Marshall Islands. This week an interest piece of news about atolls came out. A recent study suggests that an atoll of the Marshall Islands has grown larger over the past few decades. In other words, instead of shrinking in size due to the rising sea level, some low-lying atolls may increase their land surface.
The study was conducted by scholars from Auckland University and Simon Fraser University. By comparing the land size in aerial photos, the researchers discovered that Jeh Island, an atoll of the Marshall Islands, increased its land area by 13% since 1943.
It is explained that the growth in size is caused by coral reef sediment. While the sea level is rising, the atoll is building up. The offsetting effect sounds hopeful. Isn’t it? However, the researchers warned that no one knows the time scales of sediment. Meanwhile, don’t forget that global warming also raises sea water temperature which threatens the existence of many coral reefs.
Since continuous sediment is an unknown and scientists are uncertain about the consequences of climate engineering technologies like cloud whitening and stratospheric aerosol injection, mitigation remains a better option.