Inhabited tropical island lost to rising seas

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Lohachara, seen submerged on the bottom-left

The Independent reports that an inhabited island has been completely submerged for the first time as a result of rising sea levels caused by global warming. The disappearance of the island of Lohachara, part of West Bengal's Sundarbans and once home to over ten thousand people, is a milestone in some of climate scientists' darker predictions.

The first uninhabited islands recorded to have disappeared were part of the Pacific atoll nation of Kiribati, and were submerged over eight years ago. However, the disappearance of Lohachara and the displacement of its ten thousand residents was unprecedented.

Refugees from Lohachara and the nearby island of Ghoramara fled to Sagar, an island that has already lost 7500 acres of land to the sea. Ghoramara is presently about two thirds submerged. A total of a dozen islands, home to seventy thousand people, are projected to be submerged by the rising seas during the next fourteen years.

During each monsoon season almost all the Bengali delta is submerged, much of it for half a year. A 1990 study noted that "There is no evidence that environmental degradation in the Himalayas or a 'greenhouse'-induced rise in sea level have aggravated floods in Bangladesh."

Sources

  • H. Brammer. July 1990 "Floods in Bangladesh: II. Flood Mitigation and Environmental Aspects", The Geographical Journal vol.156 no.2 pp.158-165
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