Saturday , August 20 2022

Rising sea levels can build, and not destroy, the coral reef island



THE PAINTING: This is one of the islands studied in this research.
view more

Credit: Holly East

A growing global sea level could be of benefit to the long-term future of the Coral Reef Island, such as the Maldives, according to new research published in Geophysical research.

The low-altitude coral reef remains are usually less than three meters above sea level, making them highly susceptible to an increase in sea level associated with climate change. However, the research has revealed new evidence that the Maldives – the lowest country in the world – were formed when sea levels were higher than today.

Evidence was discovered by researchers who studied the formation of five islands in the south of the Maldives. By using the techniques, they succeeded in reconstructing how and when the islands were formed.

They found that large waves caused by distant storms from the coast of South Africa led to the creation of an island roughly three to four thousand years ago. These great waves – known as events with high energy waves – broke the coral edge from the ridge and transported it to the ridge platforms that created the foundations for the ridge islands.

At that time, sea levels were up to 0.5 meters higher than today, giving waves more energy. This means that higher levels of the sea and great waves of events were crucial for the construction of the island.

Researchers say that under changes in climate change, the projected increase in sea levels and the size of large waves can actually lead to the growth of the ridge island, but only if the coral reef remains healthy to provide building materials.

The research was led by Dr Holly East of the Department of Geography and Natural Sciences at Northumbria University, Nevcatle. She explains: "The coral reefs are usually very sensitive to the rising sea levels. This is a great concern for the nations on the coral reefs, in which ridge islands are the only settlement land.

"However, we have found evidence that at Maldivian ridge reefs really formed at higher sea levels than we currently have, which gives us some optimism that if climate change causes an increase in sea levels and an increase in the magnitude of major energy waves in the region, it can actually create the perfect conditions for reactivating the processes that built the islands on the ridge rather than drowning them. "

However, Dr. East pointed out that this can happen only if healthy living coral is available in the regions in the ridge communities.

"Since these islands are mostly made of coral, a healthy coral reef is vital for providing materials for the construction of the island," she said. "However, this could be problematic because the coral faces a series of dangers under climate change, including an increase in sea surface temperature and ocean oxygen. If the ridge is unhealthy, we could end up with perfect construction conditions, but not bricks."

Dr. East has worked with academics from the University of Ekatera (UK); Simon Fraser University (Canada); University of Auckland (New Zealand); Southern Technology Institute (New Zealand) and the United Kingdom Environmental Research Council (NERC) on this study.

Dr. East added: "It is important to note that the great waves necessary for the construction of ridge islands can destroy the infrastructure of the island, which potentially brings into question the existence of ridge islands in their present form. That is why the challenge for the ridge countries can be the development of infrastructure with the capacity to withstand or adapt to great waves. "


Their work, the Initiation and development of the Coral Reef Island below the level of the higher level is now available Geophysical research.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of published news published on EurekAlert! contributing institutions or to use any information through the EurekAlert system.

Source link