Should sea level rise reach six metres by 2500, Pacific islands could lose 14.5 per cent of their current land area and the overall loss for the region would average around 9.3 per cent, which is a significant loss of habitat. Some of the islands will become completely submerged and even with a rise of one metre, 14.7 per cent of all islands in the study area would disappear under water. However, it is important to note that only very small islands will be completely inundated. "This enormous number of entire islands lost is the most stunning result of our study", says Dustin Penn, head of KLIVV and co-author of the study.
Once the researchers determined which areas would likely be lost, they then assessed which species are the most vulnerable to sea level rise. To assess the consequences that rising sea levels could have for terrestrial vertebrate species the researchers calculated a biodiversity impact score for the island species in the study area. Their results show how the loss of habitat that goes along with losses of land area constitutes a serious threat to the continued existence of endemic vertebrate species in some of the Southeast Asian and Pacific islands. They discovered that endemic species found nowhere else but on certain islands and species that are already endangered face the greatest area loss from sea level rise. Their findings raise concerns not only about theses individual species but also the global impact of sea level rise for island and coastal species.
The scientists results once again confirm the potentially worrisome consequences of climate change. Moreover, the authors explain why their results may underestimate the risks and provide a series of additional factors could make the situation even worse for island biodiversity. For example, shifts in the settlement areas of the local human res
|Contact: Prof. Dustin Penn|
University of Veterinary Medicine -- Vienna