World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Wildlife in NW Hawaii at Risk from Sea Level Rise

Wildlife in Northwestern Hawaiian Islands at Risk from Sea Level Rise

New research predicts that up to 65% of some Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI), may be submerged by 2100 if sea level rises by 48 cm (a median estimate of the likely change). The islands are biologically rich, important breeding areas for the critically endangered Hawaiian monk seal, endemic birds and sea turtles. The waters surrounding the NWHI are slated to become the largest National Marine Sanctuary in the USA.

The findings will be reported later today in the international conservation journal Endangered Species Research and can be freely downloaded at the journal’s website The study was carried out by Jason Baker of the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center and the University of Aberdeen Lighthouse Field Station and collaborators.

Sea level rose 15 cm during the 20th century and is anticipated to increase further due to thermal expansion of the warming oceans and melting of glaciers and ice caps. The NWHI are the most remote archipelago in the world and while stretching across some 1800 km, they are primarily comprised of low-lying islands with a total land area of just 800 ha. Nonetheless, this habitat supports a spectacular assemblage of endangered and threatened species, many of which are endemic and unique to the islands.

Baker and colleagues developed 3-dimensional maps of several NWHI and predicted the effects of potential sea level rise and their possible impact on selected species. Most at risk from habitat loss are the Hawaiian monk seal, the endemic Laysan finch, and the Hawaiian green sea turtle, 90% of which nest at one NWHI atoll. As Baker notes, “These little islands are important nurseries for monk seals, sea turtles and millions of seabirds; yet much of this lively activity occurs just a few meters above sea level.” As the elevations of several NWHI remain undocumented, Baker believes continuing this work will be critical to conservation planning for several NWHI species in the long term, and he has ideas for mitigating losses using methods, such as beach nourishment, that have proven successful elsewhere. “If large portions of these islands slip into the sea, much of our previous conservation efforts will be compromised.”


© Scoop Media

World Headlines


At The UN: Paris Climate Agreement Moves Closer To Entry Into Force

The Paris Agreement on climate change moved closer toward entering into force in 2016 as 31 more countries joined the agreement today at a special event hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>


Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Bidding Bye Bye To Boris

Boris Johnson’s exit from the contest for Conservative Party leadership supports the conspiracy theory that he never really expected the “Leave” option to win the referendum – and he has no intention now of picking up the poisoned chalice that managing the outcome will entail... More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news