Palau: Will fleeing home be the last resort as the climate changes?

KAROR, PALAU, 14 January 2014 (IRIN) - Salustiano Albert has lived in Palau, an archipelago in the western Pacific Ocean comprising over 500 islands, for more than three decades. Part of his family home, where three generations live, used to be flooded regularly by the tides, but in the past few years his entire house has been inundated.

Kiribati and the coming climate refugee crisis

Kiribati under threat by rising seasKiribati under threat by rising seasThis article by Sandi Keane, originally published at Independent Australia on 29 November 2013, highlights a problem that will continue to grow in statue as sea levels rise, and as major extreme weather events such as flooding, droughts or storms cause people to flee to relative safety and seek asylum. Climate refugees or environmental refugees are a direct result of the lack of action on a global level of mitigating greenhouse gases to moderate climate change.

THIS WEEK, the High Court of New Zealand delivered a blow to a largely ignored asylum seeker problem that has been quietly bleeding and threatening to hemorrhage into a full-scale global catastrophe within two or three decades.

El Niño Southern Oscillation activity and intensity increasing with Global Warming

2009-2010 central Pacific El Niño2009-2010 central Pacific El NiñoA study by Australian and US researchers has found robust signs that global warming is having an increasing impact on the El Niño/La Nina (ENSO) cycle which drives a significant amount of changes to global weather. The El Nino cycle has been unusually active and intense in the 30 year period from 1979 to 2009, more than any time in the last 600 years, researchers found.

"Our research suggests in a warming world we are likely to see more extreme El Niño and La Nina events, which over the past decade in Australia have been related to extreme flooding, persistent droughts and dangerous fire seasons,” said lead author Dr Shayne McGregor from the University of NSW ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science.

“Importantly, this study not only tells us how ENSO activity has behaved in the past in relation to global average temperature, it also opens the window for climate models to be able to estimate more accurately how this activity will change in the future." said Dr McGregor.

Hawaii: Climate change fuelling more Hurricanes by end of century

A recent study looking into regional tropical cyclone formation conditions in the east and central Pacific has projected that 2 to 3 times more tropical cyclones (Hurricanes) are likely to hit Hawaii in the later part of this century.

Pacific cultures lay down a climate challenge: We are not drowning, we are fighting

Pacific Warriors Day of Action against Climate change March 2, 2013Pacific Warriors Day of Action against Climate change March 2, 2013Malo ni! My name is Mikaele Maiava. I'm writing from the Pacific Island archipelago of Tokelau to ask you to join with us in action as we take on the fossil fuel industry.

Last October, Tokelau turned off the last of its diesel generators. In their place, we switched on our solar plants, making Tokelau the first country in the world to become 100% renewably-powered. (See Tokelau installs 100 percent solar and ditches diesel power to combat climate change)

Australia gives foreign aid to Kiribati to combat climate change as new coal mines approved

sealevels rising in Kiribati: Waves crashing on a house - Kiribatisealevels rising in Kiribati: Waves crashing on a house - KiribatiAt the start of this week Australia's Foreign Minister Bob Carr announced that Australia would fund repairs to 40 kilometres of main road in South Tarawa, Kiribati. The road is heavily damaged and undermined by rising sea levels and coastal erosion from climate change. The irony is that at the same time Bob Carr's colleague, Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke was approving 3 major fossil fuel developments that will exacerbate climate change.

"Kiribati is at the front line of climate change," Senator Carr said. "Its highest point is now just three metres above sea level. Unless action is taken, Kiribati will be uninhabitable by 2030 as a result of coastal erosion, sea level rise and saltwater intrusion into drinking water."

To Kiribati Australia's aid money is an important contribution to a small island state facing obliteration due to rising seas in the next 50 years. The highest point on Kiribati is just 3 metres above sea level, and much of the land is only one to two metres high. Rising seas and storm surges are spoiling land for agriculture, washing away houses, undermining roads and producing salt water incursion into fresh drinking water wells.

Tokelau ditches diesel for 100 percent solar PV power

The tiny self governing territory of Tokelau in the South Pacific has become entirely solar-powered, with the third and final photovoltaic solar farm being turned on at the end of October 2012.

Tokelau consists of 3 small atolls with a population of about 1500 people 450km north from Samoa, and a dependent territory of New Zealand. The atolls are low lying with perhaps the highest points just 2 metres above sea level. Rising seas this century threaten the future of these islands with 1 metre rise in global sea level due to climate change conservatively predicted by the end of the century.

Coral reefs being pushed to extinction by global warming

Increasing sea surface temperatures are imperilling coral reef ecosystems say Australian marine and climate scientists. A new scientific paper reveals that atmospheric warming of 2 degrees celsius is too much for nearly all the world's coral reef ecosystems, including the Great Barrier Reef. The scientists argue that to preserve greater than 10 per cent of coral reefs worldwide would require limiting global warming to below 1.5 °C. This equates to the goal of reducing carbon in the atmosphere to 350ppm, rather than a 2 degree rise or 450ppm that the UN Framwework Convention on Climate Change has adopted as the safe limit at several meetings.

Atmospheric concentration of CO2 currently stands at 392.41ppm. With current pledged reduction in emissions we are heading for 4.4 °C of warming by the end of the century according to the Climate Scoreboard.

Related: The True Cost of Australia's Coal Boom | Greenpeace report: Boom Goes the Reef: Australia's coal export boom and the industrialisation of the Great Barrier Reef (PDF) | The Conversation: - Climate change guardrail too hot for coral reefs?

Climate change causing increase in extreme weather in South Pacific

An international study led by CSIRO oceanographer Dr Wenju Cai has identified that global warming is causing shifts in the rain band of the South Pacific Convergence Zone causing an increase in extreme weather across the island nation states of the South Pacific. The result of the movement causes drought and higher prevalence of forest fire in some areas while other islands experience extreme floods and increased frequency of tropical cyclones.

"Due to its strong rainfall gradient, a small displacement in the [South Pacific Convergence Zone] SPCZ's position causes drastic changes to hydroclimatic conditions and the frequency of extreme weather events such as droughts, floods and tropical cyclones experienced by vulnerable island countries in the region." says the paper.

Climate Change a hot issue in Pacific Island nations leading up to Durban climate talks

A major new report on climate change in the Pacific Ocean region reports that the region is getter hotter, sea levels are rising, rainfall is changing and equatorial winds have weakened. While cyclone may tend to decrease slightly in the future, cyclone intensity is likely to be greater.

The report launched today - Climate change in the Pacific, scientific assessment and new research - contains 530 pages in 2 volumes with over 100 authors. The research was led by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) and Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) with strong input from 15 National Meteorological Services, Geoscience Australia, and from universities in the region. The report includes observations and climate projections for 15 partner countries involved : Cook Islands, East Timor, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

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