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Mangroves move inland as seas rise

Adapting to the damaging effects of climate change, plants are gradually moving to where temperatures are cooler, rainfall is greater, f...

8/02/2007

Seas swamp Australian islands

Swamped ... Helen Mosby and her son Josiah walk along what used to be a road on Yorke Island / Brian Cassey / News Limited newspapers


Breaking Earth News
Torres Stait

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*Roads swallowed, houses flooded on some islands
*Communities fear next generation will have to leave
*Water level could rise by as much as 88cm


GLOBAL warming is not just a theory in Torres Strait – it is lapping at people's doorsteps.
The phenomenon is a visible reality as rising sea levels threaten to erase centuries-old island communities.


Roads have been swallowed whole, buildings washed out, graveyards swamped and houses flooded in six of the most vulnerable low-lying island communities.


Authorities have ordered evacuation and relocation plans for more than 2000 people who face losing their land and livelihood from the invading sea. "These islands are sinking," Torres Shire Mayor Pedro Stephen said yesterday. "People are looking at options of building on stilts or even floating pontoons because of the rising sea levels.


"And this is the heartbreaking thing, this generation or the next may have to leave behind all they have ever known, all because of global warming." Scientists predict warmer sea temperatures (thermal expansion) and the meting of the ice caps will contribute to a sea-level rise of between 9cm and 88cm in the next 50 years.


Some parts of the most vulnerable islands – Masig (Yorke), Poruma (Coconut), Warraber, Yam, Saibai and Boigu – are today less than 1m above sea level.
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