The text of the introduction to the BBC Podcast Sea Levels Rise; The Compass, Living on the Edge Episode 1 of 4 says:
Five of the Solomon Islands have disappeared, many more are becoming uninhabitable. For Kerry and Sally, climate change is not a theory - it is what has made them abandon their island and the graves of their ancestors. They see themselves as lucky - they had family land to move to and the skills to build new homes on stilts - but they are resigned to moving again.
Award-winning journalist Didi Akinyelure visits her home city of Lagos to find out the latest solution to sea level rise in West Africa. The glass towers of the new financial district of Eko Atlantic are protected from the waves by state of the art sea defences. The residents of the luxury apartments should keep their feet dry whatever the climate throws at them. That may be small comfort for their unprotected neighbours in the shanty town on the lagoon, Makoko, but they’re experts in survival against the odds.
Certainly sea level is rising, on the order of perhaps 15 centimeters in the last century judging from this plot, and the New Scientist article Five Pacific islands vanish from sight as sea levels rise certainly adds credence to this. Answers to the question Sea Level Rise due to Climate Change shed some light on human-induced climate change.
Between about 04:00 and 06:00 in the podcast, Simon Albert, a climate change scientist from University of Queensland describes the situation in the Solomons.
Here is my best attempt at a transcription of a small part of the podcast:
The Solomons have really over the last couple of decades been a global “hot spot” for sea level rise. So the rates of sea level rise we’ve observed in the Solomons have been in the order of three times the global average.
Whilst globally the seas have been rising approximately 3 millimeters per year for the last couple of decades, the Solomons have seen a rise of 7 to 10 millimeters per year over that time frame.
A large part of that is a result of human-induced climate change, and then on top of that we’ve also had “the perfect storm” if you like, of a series of natural cycles in sea-level rise and weather conditions, such as El Nino, intensification of trade winds, which effectively have pushed water into the Western Pacific, resulting in a significantly higher than would be normally experienced.
Over the last 20 years we’ve seen sea level in the Solomons rise by 15 to 20 centimeters. When you translate that over these very low-lying islands, that can translate to the coast line receding by several hundreds of meters.
Question: Could someone help me better understand the phenomenon that have lead to this faster rate of local sea level rise in the Solomon islands?
edit: My original post had these four points. Once I replayed a few more times I realized they don't perfectly reflect the breakdown in the podcast, but since @John has taken the time to write such a great answer using them I'll include them here to maintain continuity:
- Human induced climate change
- Series of natural cycles in sea level rise
- Weather cycles such as El Niño
- Intensification of trade winds, which have pushed water into the pacific
below: The sea encroaches on a tropical island. Credit: Getty Images. From here. (click for full size)
below: Credit: Chris Roelfsema, from NewScientist. (click for full size)