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Rising ‘king tides’ flood the Marshall Islands

Tidal surges are encroaching on coastal settlements in the Marshall Islands. Creative Commons: Kelly Rigg, 2013

Tidal surges are encroaching on coastal settlements in the Marshall Islands. Creative Commons: Kelly Rigg, 2013

In the Marshall Islands, a state of emergency has been declared as tidal surges have imperiled many low-lying communities.

The unusually high tides, known locally as ‘king tides,’ rose in the capital city of Majuro on Monday. Preliminary assessments found that 69 homes, as well as one school, a waste site, a cemetery, and an airport road have suffered damage from flooding.

No injuries or fatalities have yet been reported.

According to a flash update released by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), around 1,000 people have been displaced in Majuro, while on the nearby Arno Atoll 36 homes have been damaged and 246 people have been displaced.

Residents of the Marshall Islands are no strangers to extreme weather events. Just last year, record tides engulfed the country’s islands while an extensive drought in the northern portion of the country prompted international action.

The Marshall Islands are comprised of 29 atolls which lie at an average of two metres above sea level, making them vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Parts of the islands lie just 30cm above water, and a sea level rise of 80 cm would inundate two-thirds of the islands, according to projections. This is a scenario which could occur by the end of the century, according to the UN’s climate science body, the IPCC.

Read more: RTCC>>

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