It’s not news that as a result of climate change, oceans could literally swallow many low-lying islands if sea-level rise continues at its current pace.
Four years ago, the small island nation of Maldives, population 393,988, held its cabinet meeting underwater to highlight the problem, hoping the backdrop of coral would raise alarm bells about a rising Indian Ocean. Several islands off of India have all but disappeared, lost under the waves for years only to reemerge on satellite images.
In many cases, it’s no longer a question of whether this will happen, but when. A new paper in the March Trends in Ecology & Evolution asks a different question about these islands, particularly those acting as sanctuaries for species, where invasives have been eradicated: What happens to the animals on these places, and if climate change will sink the islands anyway, are they ecosystems worth saving?
Researchers from the New Zealand’s University of Auckland, France’s University of Paris Sud and Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization looked at more than 600 islands where invasive-species eradication has been successful. They found that should the ocean waters rise just 3 feet, 26 of the islands will be submerged, The New Zealand Herald reports.
Of 4,500 islands in what are considered biodiversity hotspots, up to 19 percent of those could drown, according to Grist.
The researchers don’t conclude that the animals should be left to swim or sink. And they don’t propose halting efforts to remove invasive species from these islands. Rather, they suggest a new approach that considers changes in levels of the sea: “The full spectrum of climate change, especially sea-level rise and loss of suitable climatic conditions, should be rapidly integrated into island biodiversity research and management,” they write in the abstract to their paper.
“It may be that eventually we will be faced with some tough decisions about whether we move species in order to save them or whether we do nothing and let them go extinct,” James Russell, one of the researchers from the University of Auckland, told the Herald. Now, he added, is the time to determine which species most need our help “and the options for saving them.”
Started in year 2010, ‘Climate Himalaya’ initiative has been working on Mountains and Climate linked issues in the Himalayan region of South Asia. In the last five years this knowledge sharing portal has become one of the important references for the governments, research institutions, civil society groups and international agencies, those have work and interest in the Himalayas. The Climate Himalaya team innovates on knowledge sharing, capacity building and climatic adaptation aspects in its focus countries like Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Climate Himalaya’s thematic areas of work are mountain ecosystem, water, forest and livelihood. Read>>