Island Nation Gives the Housing Bubble a Whole New Meaning

Mon, 2008-11-10 16:21Ross Gelbspan
Ross Gelbspan's picture

Island Nation Gives the Housing Bubble a Whole New Meaning

The Maldives will begin to divert a portion of the country's billion-dollar annual tourist revenue into buying a new homeland - as an insurance policy against climate change that threatens to turn the 300,000 islanders into environmental refugees.

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THE MALDIVES SEA LEVEL PROJECT. II: PAST-PRESENT-FUTURE
RNER,

Nils-Axel, Paleogeophysics & Geodynamics, Stockholm Univ, Stockholm S-10691 Sweden, morner@pog.su.se.

The Maldives have a uniquely position in sea level research (as discussed in Integrated Coastal Zone Management, No. 1, 2000, p. 17-20). In the last decade, they have attracted special attention because, in the IPCC-scenario, the Maldives would be condemned to become flooded in the next 50-100 years. Our research data do not lend support to any such flooding scenario, however. On the contrary, we find no signs of any on-going sea level rise. Our results comes from visits to numerous islands including extensive work on Hulhudoo and Guidhoo in the north, in Viligili and Loshfuchi (the site of “the reef woman”) in the middle, and in Addu in the south. This includes coring, levelling, sampling and dating (35 C14-dates). Present sea level was reached at about 4500 BP. In the last 4000 years, sea level oscillated around the present in the last 4000 years. At 3900 BP, there was a short and sharp sea level high-stand at about +1.2 m. For the last millennium, a detailed sea level record is established: +0 m 1000-800 BP, +60 cm 800-300 BP, 0 to just below 0 in the 18th century AD, +30 cm 1790-1970 AD, fall to 0 in ~1970 up to today. At about 1970, sea level fell by 20-30 cm (presumably due to increased evaporation). This is recorded in storm level, high-tide level, mean sea level and in lake and lagoon levels (from the north to the south). In the last decade, there are no signs of any rise in sea level. Hence, we are able to free the islands from the condemnation to become flooded in the 21st century.