Climate change: Rising sea levels could cause major coastal erosion in Lakshadweep islands by 2030

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June 22, 2021 2:27 PM

Rising sea levels: The islands are low in elevation, with the minimum elevation being less than 1 metre above the mean sea level, and the maximum elevation ranging between 4 and 6 metres above the mean sea level.

The group of islands has 36 coral and reef formation islands and it is located in the Arabian Sea with a total area of merely 32 sq km.

Lakshadweep, Rising Sea Levels: In a worrying study, scientists of IIT Kharagpur have estimated that many of the islands around Lakshadweep could undergo coastal erosion. The study, which was carried out under the Department of Science and Technology, found that the sea levels around the western group of islands could rise between 0.4 mm and 0.9 mm annually. This could not only lead to coastal erosion of many islands, but could also lead to the submergence of smaller islets, according to a report in IE. The group of islands has 36 coral and reef formation islands and it is located in the Arabian Sea with a total area of merely 32 sq km.

The islands are low in elevation, with the minimum elevation being less than 1 metre above the mean sea level, and the maximum elevation ranging between 4 and 6 metres above the mean sea level.

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Of these 36 islands, only 10 have been inhabited and these are the ones that the researchers have studied. The report said that the scientists looked at different climate change models to assess the range of rise in sea levels, and projection of different scenarios regarding greenhouse gases has been conducted in the study, which was published in the Regional Studies in Marine Science journal. The findings show that all the islands would be affected by this rise in sea levels, with some being affected more than the others.

The report cited one of the lead authors of the study, IIT Kharagpur’s Prasad K Bhaskaran as saying that the islands were already being impacted by the current rise in sea levels. He added that many countries have measures to protect coasts against erosion, and even though India had some measures too, they were not adequate, further saying that by 2030, the team was expecting the islands to be impacted by coastal erosion in a major way, which would cause problems for the inhabitants of the UT.

Bhaskaran added that there was an urgent need to take coastal protection measures, while saying that there could be two different types of measures – soft measures like creation of mangroves would be more effective in the team’s opinion, while hard measures like creation of sea walls would be much more expensive.

Major land loss has been predicted for the Chetlat and Amini islands, estimating that in Amini, land loss would occur in about 60% to 70% of the current shoreline, and putting this figure for Chetlat at 70% to 80%. Apart from that, the rise of sea level could also impact Minicoy island and capital Kavaratti, with land-loss being faced by an estimated 60% of the shoreline. Not only that but the only airport in Lakshadweep, located on Agatti island’s southernmost tip, is also likely to be damaged due to this, the report added.

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