Sengupta, Meghna ORCID:, Ford, Murray R., Kench, Paul S. and Perry, George L. W. (2023) Drivers of shoreline change on Pacific coral reef islands: linking island change to processes. Regional Environmental Change, 23 (3). DOI

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Reef islands are considered highly vulnerable to the impacts of anthropogenic climate change. While existing studies provide evidence of high dynamism and predominant stability over recent periods of sea-level rise, efforts to statistically link recorded morphological changes to processes are limited. We analyse shoreline changes across an expansive region of diverse oceanographic and climatic conditions and assess those observations relative to the processes potentially driving change. This record comprises 568 islands from 42 atolls spanning the western to the central Pacific Ocean from the Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Kiribati and Tuvalu, and is one of the first robust attempts to statistically attribute the drivers of observed island changes within the past half-century. Our analyses demonstrate that island change and a range of its potential controls, including oceanographic, climatic and local-scale morphometric characteristics of reefs and islands, are not correlated, underscoring that no single variable could predict a uniform response across the study islands. The lack of association between sea-level rise and shoreline change on this large sample of islands addresses the common notion of a linear relationship between rising sea levels and magnitude of erosion in reef island systems. We emphasise the critical need to move from simplistic assessments of island change, highlight the importance of incorporating multiple predictors and the need for more computationally robust models.

Document Type: Article
Programme Area: PA2
Research affiliation: Biogeochemistry and Geology > Geoecology & Carbonate Sedimentology
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
ISSN: 1436-3798
Date Deposited: 16 Jan 2024 07:51
Last Modified: 26 Mar 2024 13:31

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