Coral atolls able to grow faster than sea level can rise.

Same rules apply to coral atolls anywhere in the world:

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

P.S. Kench1, D. Thompson1, M.R. Ford1, H. Ogawa1 and R.F. McLean2

1School of Environment, The University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland 1142, New Zealand
2School of Physical, Environmental and Mathematical Sciences, University of New South Wales, Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Abstract

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 ± 0.7 mm/yr), totaling ∼0.30 ± 0.04 m over the past 60 yr. We analyzed six time slices of shoreline position over the past 118 yr 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.

Received 22 December 2014.
Revision received 24 March 2015.
Accepted 26 March 2015.

© Geological Society of America

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