NEW DELHI — For nearly 30 years, India and Bangladesh have argued
over control of a tiny rock island in the Bay of Bengal. Now rising sea
levels have resolved the dispute for them: the island’s gone.
New Moore Island in the Sunderbans has been completely submerged,
said oceanographer Sugata Hazra, a professor at Jadavpur University in
Calcutta. Its disappearance has been confirmed by satellite imagery and
sea patrols, he said.
“What these two countries could not achieve from years of talking, has been resolved by global warming,” said Hazra.
Scientists at the School of Oceanographic Studies at the university
have noted an alarming increase in the rate at which sea levels have
risen over the past decade in the Bay of Bengal.
Until 2000, the sea levels rose about 3 millimeters (0.12 inches) a
year, but over the last decade they have been rising about 5
millimeters (0.2 inches) annually, he said.
Another nearby island, Lohachara, was submerged in 1996, forcing its
inhabitants to move to the mainland, while almost half the land of
Ghoramara island was underwater, he said. At least 10 other islands in
the area were at risk as well, Hazra said.
“We will have ever larger numbers of people displaced from the Sunderbans as more island areas come under water,” he said.
Bangladesh, a low-lying delta nation of 150 million people, is one
of the countries worst-affected by global warming. Officials estimate
18 percent of Bangladesh’s coastal area will be underwater and 20
million people will be displaced if sea levels rise 1 meter (3.3 feet)
by 2050 as projected by some climate models.
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