Special Topics

Pacific Ocean Swallows Five Solomon Islands and Villages: Climate Change to be Blamed?


The Pacific Ocean swallowed and completely erased five Solomon islands and villages on the face of the Earth. This is another embodiment of climate change that elucidates the evidence that destruction might be near. And, climate change is a driving factor behind this.

A recent study published in IOP Science has revealed that coastal erosion and rising sea levels have submerged the coral atolls in the Pacific Ocean. The islands were once vegetated and had abundant of palms, oaks, mangroves, and other trees. However, they were not inhabited.

Researchers examined 33 islands. They compared the historic photos of the islands dating back to 1947 with current satellite images. These photos revealed that “five islands have (been) submerged beneath the water”.

The Solomon Islands, situated in the South Pacific between Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu, are an archipelago of hundreds of tropical islands and atolls. The islands incorporate into two major island chains extending 1800 kilometres across Anuta to the east and west to Tikopia.  The inhabitant count is 550,000.

In addition, researchers also revealed that about six other islands have suffered shoreline recession by 20 percent since 1947. Several villages were destroyed even those which were already established as early as 1935. The climate change displaced many people though several still find it hard to relocate to other islands, according to Think Progress.

Rising sea-level is a major concern for those who want to relocate to other islands. Most of them have moved to hilltops to start a new life.

“The sea has started to come inland, it forced us to move up to the hilltop and rebuild our village there away from the sea,” said Sirilo Sutaroti, 94, a leader of the Paurata tribe in a report by The Washington Post.

In the past two decades, the rates of sea level were highest among the Solomon islands. Since 1950, it averaged 3 mm yr−1. Further, it rated 7–10 mm yr−1 since 1994.

According to ABC News, a study by a NASA scientist, James Hansen, estimated that the sea-level could rise up to 7 metres in the coming century. This could probably destroy coastal groups if the study proved true.

This is the first time that the Solomon islands have been analysed like this.

To Top