Subj: Re: A correct prediction ? Article in queston enclosed
Date: 8/8/00 5:13:52 PM Pacific Daylight Time

Falling Sea Level Upsets
Theory Of Global Warming
By Mark Chipperfield in Tuvalu and David Harrison in London
Falling sea level upsets theory of global warming

The 11,000 inhabitants of a tiny Pacific
country that was predicted to vanish under
water because of the effects of global
warming have been given a reprieve
because sea levels have begun to fall.

In the early 1990s, scientists forecast that the
coral atoll of nine islands - which is only
12ft above sea level at its highest point -
would vanish within decades because the
sea was rising by up to 1.5in a year.
However, a new study has found that sea
levels have since fallen by nearly 2.5in and
experts at Tuvalu's Meteorological Service
in Funafuti, the islands' administrative
centre, said this meant they would survive
for another 100 years.

They said similar sea level falls had been
recorded in Nauru and the Solomon Islands,
which were also considered to be under
threat. The release of the data from Tuvalu,
formerly part of the Gilbert and Ellice
Islands, will renew scientific debate about
climate change and its impact on ocean
levels. The island's scientists admitted they
were surprised and "a little embarrassed" by
the change, which they blame on unusual
weather conditions caused by El Niño in

Hilia Vavae, the Metereological Service's
director, said: "This is certainly a bit of a
shock for us because we have been
experiencing the effect of rising oceans for a
long time." Although their country has been
saved from imminent engulfment, not all
islanders are happy about the change in
Tuvalu's fortunes. Residents who once
worried about their homes being flooded are
now complaining that the lower tides are
disrupting their fishing expeditions, making
it difficult to moor their boats and navigate
low-lying reefs.

However, scientists both on and off the
island believe such concerns will be short
term because the sea level falls are coming
to an end and the oceans will soon resume
their inexorable rise. The Tuvalu
government, a vocal critic of the
industrialised world at environmental
conferences in Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro,
has said that the result of its research is a
"blip" and it is expected to make climate
change a major issue when it joins the
United Nations next month.

Low-lying coral islands such as Tuvalu and
the Maldives are among the countries most
vulnerable to rising sea levels. Most of the
world's leading scientists agree that the earth
is warming up, caused by carbon dioxide
emissions from petrol and the burning of

Last month a study by Nasa, the US space
agency, found that sea levels were being
pushed up by the addition of 50 billion tons
of water a year from Greenland's melting ice
sheet. Professor Patrick Nunn, head of
geography at the University of the South
Pacific in Fiji and an expert on island
formation, said last week that the figures
from Tuvalu, Papua New Guinea and the
Solomons were based on inadequate

He said: "It is a nonsense to try to make
predictions about climate change from a
data base of only seven years. You need
data over a minimum period of at least 30
years. A lot of these sea gauges have been
slowly falling over the last five years but
that is a short-term trend. Island countries
such as Kiribati and Tuvalu remain
incredibly vulnerable to sea change. These
low-lying islands are between 2,000 and
3,000 years old. They only formed because
sea levels fell, allowing a build up of sand
and gravel. Now it could go the other way."

Ms Vavae is also pessimistic about the
future of her country, which last year signed
a £34 million deal to license its domain
name - - to an American internet
company. She said: "There is no doubt
about the impact of climate change on
Tuvalu. We already have difficulty planting
traditional crops. We've seen more frequent
tropical cyclones, more severe droughts and
alarming sea level heights during spring

"We are still facing the daunting prospect of
being one of the first countries to be
submerged by sea-level rises related to
climate change."