The Atolls of Global Warming?

Willis Eschenbach does excellent work again. It is a lengthy piece, but if you would like to know how freshwater and saltwater coexist on those lovely coral islands in the Pacific, then here is your chance:

Recently, here in the Solomon Islands, the sea level rise has been blamed for salt water intrusion into the subsurface “lens” of fresh water that forms under atolls. Beneath the surface of most atolls, there is a lens shaped body of fresh water. The claim is that the rising sea levels are contaminating the fresh-water lens with seawater. On other atolls, increased sea levels are claimed to be washing away parts of the atoll.

In this paper, I will discuss the three inter-related claims that people are making as illustrated above. The claims are:

1. Increasing CO2 causes increased sea level rise.

2. Sea level rise causes salt water to intrude into the freshwater lens

3. Sea level rise gravely endangers low-lying coral atolls like Tuvalu, Kiribati, and the Maldives. A mere 1 metre rise would see them mostly washed away.

I will look at the real causes of the very real problems faced by atoll dwellers. Finally, I will list some practical measures to ameliorate those problems.

I’m glad to see this level and type of engagement on the facts by someone who is in a position to understand what is really going on. I do not make the claim that I completely understand, but Mr. Eschenbach presents the information well–and convincingly. Of course, I am biased a bit toward going with simple answers before more complex ones, so keep that in mind as you read it all.

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