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Physical modelling of the response of reef islands to sea-level rise

Megan E. Tuck, Paul S. Kench, Murray R. Ford and Gerd Masselink
Physical modelling of the response of reef islands to sea-level rise
Geology (Boulder) (July 2019) Pre-Issue Publication

Abstract

Sea-level rise and increased storminess are expected to destabilize low-lying reef islands formed on coral reef platforms, and increased flooding is expected to render them uninhabitable within the coming decades. Such projections are founded on the assumption that islands are geologically static landforms that will simply drown as sea-level rises. Here, we present evidence from physical model experiments of a reef island that demonstrates islands have the capability to morphodynamically respond to rising sea level through island accretion. Challenging outputs from existing models based on the assumption that islands are geomorphologically inert, results demonstrate that islands not only move laterally on reef platforms, but overwash processes provide a mechanism to build and maintain the freeboard of islands above sea level. Implications of island building are profound, as it will offset existing scenarios of dramatic increases in island flooding. Future predictive models must include the morphodynamic behavior of islands to better resolve flood impacts and future island vulnerability.


ISSN: 0091-7613
EISSN: 1943-2682
Coden: GLGYBA
Serial Title: Geology (Boulder)
Serial Volume: Pre-Issue Publication
Title: Physical modelling of the response of reef islands to sea-level rise
Affiliation: University of Auckland, School of Environment, Auckland, New Zealand
Published: 20190705
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 29
Accession Number: 2019-065633
Categories: GeomorphologyEnvironmental geology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Annotation: GSA Data Repository item 2019288
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 1 table
Secondary Affiliation: University of Plymouth, GBR, United Kingdom
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2019, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 2019
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