[Coral-List] Rising sea levels may not submerge atoll islands

Lescinsky, Halard hlescinsky at otterbein.edu
Wed Aug 13 10:39:27 EDT 2014

I'm not sure how Science could publish such a skewed news piece (Doug's
post that rising sea-level has little effect on Atoll inhabitants) since it
clearly ignores (at least) 3 major issues:   The first is that for many
islanders, the immediate problem is growing crops that need their roots to
be out of sea water and this requires a bit of topographic relief (1 meter)
above sea-level.   The crops couldn't live on a sandbar.  Related to this
is the observation published by Bill Dickerson that people on Pacific
Atolls generally live on islands that have Holocene bedrock cores.  These
"pinned islands" are the result of a mid-Holocene sea level high stand-
they are not actively forming piles of sand.  Even if sandbars continue to
exist into the future, it doesn't make them habitable.  Finally, there is
the question of the reef's carbonate budget and whether it will accrete and
produce sufficient sediment to build islands on pace with sea-level rise.
Current and pending decreases in live coral cover, and hence carbonate
production, suggest rapidly decreasing carbonate budgets that will likely
have little extra sediment left over for beach replenishment.    One would
hope that issues such as these would be considered in a balanced news
piece- particularly one with the clout of Science.

Hal Lescinsky

On Tue, Aug 12, 2014 at 6:49 PM, Douglas Fenner <
douglasfennertassi at gmail.com> wrote:

> From Science Now (free online general interest articles you can sign up
> for):
> "Warming may not swamp islands."
> http://news.sciencemag.org/asiapacific/2014/07/warming-may-not-swamp-islands
> The original short article in Science that this is based on has a sentence
> I particularly like, which goes
> "As long as the reef is healthy and generates an abundant supply of sand,
> there’s no reason a reef island can’t grow and keep up."
> That is, of course, a very big "if."  If on the other hand, global
> warming-caused mass coral bleaching, acidification, sedimentation,
> nutrients, overfishing, etc. severely damage the corals and/or coralline
> algae, then maybe reefs and islands won't be able to keep up.  Healthy
> corals and reefs will be critical, atoll island survival hangs in the
> balance.
> Cheers,  Doug
> --
> Douglas Fenner
> Contractor with Ocean Associates, Inc.
> PO Box 7390
> Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799  USA
> phone 1 684 622-7084
> "belief in climate change is optional, participation is not."
> belief in evolution is optional, use of antibiotics that bacteria have not
> evolved resistance to is recommended.
> website:  http://independent.academia.edu/DouglasFenner
> Blog:
> http://cctus.org/conservation-science/2014-expedition-scholar/2014-expedition-scholar-douglas-fenner-ph-d/2014-expedition-scholar-blog/
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