The Sun Above by Rudolph Poyorena
I cut out a condensed article describing the newly-submerged island from our newspaper last week. It quoted the same oceanographer as the longer article below, noting that Professor Hazra said the disappearance of the island has been confirmed by satellite imagery and sea patrols. Additionally, it said that another nearby island, Lohachara, was submerged in 1996. That island's inhabitants were forced to move to the mainland.
Rising sea level settles border dispute
Matt Wade, Herald correspondent
March 25, 2010
NEW DELHI: In an unusual example of the effects of global climate change, rising sea levels in the Bay of Bengal have helped resolve a troublesome territorial dispute between two of the world's most populated countries, a leading Indian oceanographer says.
Sugata Hazra, the head of oceanography at Kolkata's Jadavpur University, says a flat muddy patch of land known as South Talpatti in Bangladesh and New Moore Island in India has disappeared under the Bay of Bengal. The landmass had been claimed by both countries but Professor Hazra says satellite images prove it has gone.
''It is now a submerged landmass, not an island,'' Professor Hazra told the Herald.
''Only small parts can be seen in very, very low tide conditions.''
Sea-level rise caused by climate change was ''surely'' a factor in the island's inundation, Professor Hazra said.
''The rate of sea-level rise in this part of the northern Bay of Bengal is definitely attributable to climate change,'' he said.
''There is a close correlation between the rate of sea-level rise and the sea surface temperature.''
The island was once about 3.5 kilometres long and three kilometres wide and situated four kilometres from the mouth of the Hariabhanga River, the waterway that marks a stretch of the border between south-western Bangladesh and India.
Scientists believe the disputed island was formed following a cyclone in the Bay of Bengal in 1970 and both countries laid claim to the land.
Bilateral negotiations were inconclusive and in 1981 the Indian government sent gunboats to the island and members of its Border Security Forces planted an Indian flag there.
The island was not inhabited but Bangladeshi fishermen were reportedly sighted there frequently during the dry season.
''This is a unique instance of how climate resolves a dispute,'' said Professor Hazra.
''It also goes to show how climate can affect all of us beyond geographical boundaries.
''The Indian government had once sent ships with guns to guard the island.
''Now one will have to think of sending submarines to mount a vigil there.''
Professor Hazra said sea-level rise, changes in monsoonal rain patterns which altered river flows and land subsidence were all contributing to the inundation of land in the northern Bay of Bengal.
The low-lying delta region that makes up much of Bangladesh and the neighbouring Indian state of West Bengal are acutely vulnerable to climate change.
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts rising sea levels will devour 17 per cent of Bangladesh by 2050, displacing at least 20 million people. More than 155 million people live in the country.
The Bangladesh non-governmental organisation Coastal Watch says an average of 11 Bangladeshis are losing their homes to rising waters every hour.
Professor Hazra predicts that 15 per cent of the Indian Sundarbans region on the northern shore of the Bay of Bengal will be submerged by 2020.
''A lot of other islands are eroding very fast,'' he said.
The cyclone-prone region is also likely to experience more frequent and extreme storms as the sea-water temperature in the Bay of Bengal rises due to global warming.
[Source: The Sydney Morning Herald]