Climate change impacts on tropical atoll communities

Theme: Natural & Biological Hazards

Primary Supervisor:

Ilan Kelman

Earth Sciences, UCL

Ilan Kelman's Profile Picture

Project Description:

Some residents of tropical atoll communities are migrating now due to climate change’s impacts. Many more are likely to need to move in the future. Yet limited empirical evidence exists to (i) demonstrate the geomorphological responses of low-lying islands to changing sea levels and (ii) garner local knowledge about experiences of previous changes, e.g. due to tectonic subsidence or uplift.

To seek evidence of recent relative and absolute sea-level changes, this project will conduct qualitative interviews for local knowledge and quantitative analyses of coastline and elevation changes through existing remote sensed data and on-site surveying in locations with geodetic benchmarks.

Two communities that can yield adequate qualitative and quantitative data will be selected from the islands of Vanuatu and Tuvalu. Possible attributions of observed changes will be made to local or wider environmental factors and will indicate whether the changes are cyclic or a changing baseline.

Policy Impact of Research:

The research results will be communicated to the studied communities through local traditional methods, as instructed by community members, and to island governments through policy seminars organised in collaboration with the UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction.

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