Climate Change Could Displace Half a Million Atoll Residents Within Decades

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EcoWatch 26th April 2018

A new study published in Science Advances Wednesday has bad news for the residents of low-lying atolls: If current greenhouse gas emission rates continue, climate change will render most of these islands uninhabitable by mid-century, not by the end of the century as previously believed.

This could turn the more than half a million people who live on atolls into climate refugeesThe Guardianreported Wednesday. The dramatic difference between these and previous findings is because previous studies only looked at sea level rise.

However, this study, conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Deltares, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, also looked at the impact of flooding from "wave overwash" when waves from storms wash over the islands. The scientists found that this flooding would pose a serious threat to the islands' supply of fresh drinking water, rendering it non-potable between 2030 and 2060 and forcing residents to leave.

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