RISING TIDE WORRIES MARSHALL ISLANDERS

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Sea level expected rise 4 to 6 inches soon

By Aenet Rowa MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Yokwe, March 3, 2011) - Spring tides in January and February, accompanied by a temporary La Niña-produced sea-level rise, caused flooding on low-lying atolls of the Marshall Islands.

The February 2011 outlook from the U.S. National Weather Service’s Pacific ENSO Update reported that the current trend of sea-level, which is about 2 to 8 inches higher than normal, is supportive of the on-going La Niña condition.

During any La Niña event the sea level in the U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Islands (USAPI) region experiences a rise.

Forecasts for the Marshall Islands, at Majuro and Kwajalein stations, indicate sea levels are expected to be about 4 to 6 inches higher than normal in coming seasons.

The Bikini community of Ejit Island of Majuro Atoll, was impacted by waves during the highest tide of 2011 on Saturday, February 19, 2011. The high tide measured 6.23 feet (1.9 meters) at about 5 p.m. local time.

"While no one was hurt by the waves washing over the island, many of the local food crops such as breadfruit, pandanus, bananas, papaya and coconuts were damaged," reported Bikini Liaison Jack Niedenthal on the Bikini Atoll website.

On January 21, Kili, a single island which is home to the displaced Bikini community, was hit by waves causing wide-spread inundation and damage to buildings and vegetation.

Bikini Atoll Mayor Alson Kelen and Senator Tomaki Juda, accompanied by the USAID official from the US Embassy in Majuro, an oceanographer from the College of the Marshall Islands, and RMI officials, visited Kili on February 11, to assess the situation.

On Majuro, the high tide swept inland, washing coral, rocks, and debris onto yards and roads.

The main island of Namdrik Atoll also experienced major flooding, with the salt water damaging crops.

Namdrik Senator Mattlan Zackhras, who is RMI’s Minister of Resources and Development, said the flooding puts a human face to the issue of sea level rise due to climate change/global warming in the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

"This is why we as a nation must continue to plead our case to the global community about these very real issues facing small island developing states that are most vulnerable and in the front lines."

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