Dr. Sebastian Lüning and Prof. Fritz Vahrenholt show that sea level rise at the Fiji Islands is being hyped up in order to generate money.
Dr. Sebastian Lüning and Prof. Fritz Vahrenholt
(Translated/edited by P. Gosselin)
The COP23 climate conference in Bonn had originally been planned to take place in the Fiji Islands. But in order to comfortably accommodate the approximately 25,000 representatives(!) from every country in the world, it was decided to hold it in Bonn.
It was reported in Spiegel about how the islands are becoming victims. At the start of the article author Axel Bojanowski referred to the rise in sea level and linked to an NOAA-website. But later throughout the rest of the article there was no mention of climate change submerging the islands.
Bojanowski was completely correct to emphasize that the most important reasons for the erosion of the islands is solely the fault of the island inhabitants. The uncontrolled deforestation reduces stability and resistance to the sea. Even persons who sail in the area report that there are 3-meter waves even in the absence storms in the region.
But let’s get back to sea level rise in the area. At the NOAA website there is also the possibility to download the data. And that is what we did.
Figure 1: Sea level rise at the Fiji Islands, 1990-2011. Data: NOAA. The linear trend is 6 mm per year.
The available NOAA data go back (with some gaps) to 1972, but the station was moved in March 1989 and this led to an upwards jump of about 10 cm. Thus we look only at the period from 1990 to the end of 2011, where unfortunately the data series ends. However we supplement the data for the area from satellites (see here:
Figure 2: Sea Surface Height (SSH at the Fiji Islands from satellite measurement. Source here.
After a peak in 2012 the level went down by about 10 cm by mid 2017. It is very much related to natural variations, in sync with the El Ninos (low levels) and La Ninas (high levels).
So what remains of the climate change horror stories in connection to the Fiji Islands? In the article, a 40-year old woman tells about her youth (i.e. around 1990), when she viewed the water as her friend and how today (2017) she regards it as an enemy. But just what should an approximately 8 cm rise (and not the often cited 17 cm that was generated by the powerful 2011/12 La Nina) lead to in 27 years with waves of 3 meters?
The contribution to erosion coming from climate change is certainly hardly noticeable by the residents. However for PR work, it works great for shaking down money.