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The limited research that has been conducted to date on the responses of reef islands in the western Pacific indicates that islands are highly dynamic, with coastal erosion and inundation threatening infrastructure, resulting generally from extreme events, human armouring of shorelines (e.g. At least eleven islands across the northern Solomon Islands have either totally disappeared over recent decades or are currently experiencing severe erosion.
Any further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation and DOI. The rate of loss of seven islands on Isabel, for which time series imagery exists (1947, 1962, 20), increased from a mean of 0.1% pa between 19, 0.5% pa between 19 to 1.9% pa between 20 (figure 3).
Due to their extreme vulnerability, coral atolls have been the main focus for assessing island responses to sea-level change. The islands of Zollies, Rehana, Kakatina and Rapita all disappeared between 19 (table 1).
Whilst shoreline recession has been documented on atolls over past decades, the majority of studies have not specifically demonstrated evidence linking shoreline recession to recent sea-level rise (Webb and Kench 2010, Le Cozannet 2014). Severe coastal recession on the eastern shoreline of Nuatambu village occurred between 20 resulting in ten houses being lost to the sea (supplementary figure 2).
The volcanic islands of Melanesia are typically considered to be less vulnerable to sea-level rise due to high elevations and low population densities (Barnett and Adger 2003, Nunn making it amongst the most sparsely populated of Pacific Island nations. Understanding the drivers of this rapid shoreline recession and contrasting erosion rates between different areas within this region is critical to provide a foundation for local adaptation strategies.
Despite this low population density, the majority of human settlements are located in low-lying coastal areas, and reef islands are becoming increasingly densely populated due to restricted flat land adjacent to the coast. Climate change induced sea-level rise is anticipated to be one of the greatest challenges for humanity over the coming century.