Rising sea levels and coastal erosion have seen the disappearance of five islands in the Pacific, say researchers.

The islands, which were part of the Solomon Islands, were all vegetated reefs and up to five hectares in size.

They were occasionally used by fishermen but had no permanent human population.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge arrive in Honiara

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the Solomon Islands in 2012

 

A further six reef islands in the same region have been so badly eroded that 10 houses were swept into the sea between 2011 and 2014.

“At least 11 islands across the northern Solomon Islands have either totally disappeared over recent decades or are currently experiencing severe erosion,” said the authors of the study published in Environmental Research Letters.

Sea levels could rise by 1m by 2100

 

“Shoreline recession at two sites has destroyed villages that have existed since at least 1935, leading to community relocations.”

Researchers looked at 33 islands using aerial and satellite images from 1947 to 2014 and found that the rates of shoreline recession were much higher in places exposed to high wave energy.

Those islands that experienced higher wave energy and sea-level rises were lost more quickly than sheltered islands.

This showed a connection between sea-level rises and waves, which lead author Simon Albert said could help further study.

Climate Change

 

Mr Albert, a senior research fellow at the University of Queensland, said the rise in sea levels around the SolomonsĀ is almost three times higher than the global average.

The people of the Solomons, a nation of hundreds of islands famous for spectacular scuba diving experiences and Second World War relics, are already having to adapt to the changing conditions.

While some villages have had to be moved, Taro, the capital of Choiseul Province, is set to become the first provincial capital in the world to move residents due to the threat of rising seas.