Wednesday, 18 May 2011


 04 April 2011 – Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation

The Greenhouse 2011 conference has been told that Environmental Refugees is an issue that will need to be dealt with in the 21st century. Dr John Church, the research team leader for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s Wealth from Oceans Flagship said this in an interview with SIBC’s Rozalee Nongebatu following his presentation on Sea Level Rise and the Earth’s Warming at the conference.
He said as the ocean is getting warmer, ongoing sea level rise will also be certain during the 21st century and beyond, adding that there are long term changes that we are now initiating.The research scientist also spoke of the main contributing factors of the observed sea level rise in the last forty years.
“The two largest contributions to sea level rise in at least the last forty years are the thermal expansion of the ocean, contributing at least 40% to the observed sea level rise since 1970, and the other equally important contribution is the melting of glaciers and ice caps in Patagonia, Alaska, Europe, and Atlanta also contributing 40% of the observed sea level rise” said Dr Church.
He said the other three contributions to the rise of sea level are from the Greenland and Antarctica sheets, they’re  both are contributing small amounts and both the ice sheet contributions and also the glacier and ice cap contributions have also increased since the 1970.
“And for the ice sheets, it has increased particularly from the 1990s up to present.”
Dr Church said over the total period the contribution from the ice sheets is only about 20 percent of the total but it’s increasing over the recent years.
Meanwhile Dr Church says greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have got long time frames, the ocean also has very long time frame to respond to greenhouse gas concentrations and the ice sheets have got very long time frames, so this means sea level rise will continue for many centuries.He said if the worst case sea level rise scenarios are to be avoided, we need to reduce our emissions drastically and urgently.
“However we will not be able to stop all sea level rise, we’ve already seen some this century, we know the climate system is out of balance right now so we’re committed to some sea level rise even if we stopped emissions today.” said Dr Church.
“So sea level rise will continue and it will impact people from your own area, people in the pacific islands and elsewhere in the world where vast numbers of people live near the coast.”
The Research Scientist said it is inevitable there will be migration from these areas at least to some extent.
“We can take various adaptation measures to live with sea level rise in various ways and we can protect various areas, but I feel it is unlikely we will be able to protect every area and this will place people at the risk and people will want to choose to live in a much safer environment” said Dr Church.He also explained that for the pacific, the impacts of sea level rise will be felt most acutely through extreme events, strong surges, the El Nino and La Nina cycles, cyclones, tides.
“These things put together will increase the risk of major impacts on island nations so I think some of these island nations will be at risk”, said Dr Church.
The above photo of Dr. John Church was obtained from the CSIRO website.
Coverage of the GreenHouse2011 conference in Cairns written by Rozalee Nongebatu of the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation.

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