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Five islands have disappeared and no one knows why. On 6 May, six researchers published the results of a research they conducted on thirty-three islands of the archipelago with six major islands and over 900 atolls. They compared aerial and satellite images, local testimonies, landmarks, and other things. The study has led to the conclusion that, compared to 1947, five islands have disappeared, completely, and six other islands have lost a significant part of their emerged surface.

This time, climate change is not the one responsible for what has happened, or at least it is not the only responsible. Despite the sea level has risen globally by 3 millimeters on average over the last fifty years – explains Lorenzo Colantoni in an analysis published on Radio Bullets -, researchers have not yet understood whether this had already endangered the existence of the islands, in particular those in the Pacific Ocean, which is one of the most threatened regions due to climate change. On the contrary, in different areas of the Pacific, the emerged surface of the islands has grown, leading to the hypothesis that it is still too early to say that the raising level of water represent a real threat to these islands, at least for now. A slap in the face of the doomsayers, whose alarms we have to take into account, however, for the sake of the future of the planet.

This new research avoids one of the mistakes committed in the past, when they had mainly focused on areas where the water level raises was in line with the rest of the world, without considering that in many other parts of the Pacific Ocean this increase is much stronger, two times higher than the world average. That is why the islands have disappeared.”

The phenomenon, however – as mentioned above – is not to be imputed only to climate change, and many newspapers, such as The Guardian, have stepped back from the strong correlation between them, which they had expressed at the beginning. The disappearance of the islands is in fact due to a combination of factors and the raising water level is only one of them: perhaps also erosion and the increased frequency and strength of the waves have been determinant, but the picture is not clear yet. The interaction of all these factors and the mutual amplification effect of their effects might be the main responsible factor, but it is still difficult to understand the way it happens and what is the extent of this actions. The greater frequency of the waves in some areas, together with a higher water level raise, is still a small environmental mystery.

The disappearance of these islands, however, is an indicator of what is going to happen in the future, also due to climate change: the raising of the water level in that area is the same as you would expect it to be everywhere in the Pacific Ocean in a few years and in the rest of the world. Without forgetting that the greatest danger is represented by the variability of its effects; we do not know if the raising water level affects the frequency of the waves or the mechanism of water currents, and we have no idea how the various elements interact with each other. “For all we know -Colantoni concluded – the disappearance of the islands might be also due to a mix of elements triggered exactly by climate change. And that it may repeat on the European coast in a few years”.

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