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Hawaiian wildlife vulnerable to rising sea levels


The bamboo orchid is native to Hawaii (courtesy: Hans Hillewaert)
The bamboo orchid is native to Hawaii (courtesy: Hans Hillewaert)

Cheryl Santa Maria, staff writer

December 8, 2012 — Current climate trends suggest that rising sea levels could eventually swamp low-lying areas in northwestern Hawaii -- putting wildlife at risk.

Sea levels are projected to rise by 1 metre by 2100, putting wildlife in low-lying areas at risk (courtesy: Dara Veillette)
Sea levels are projected to rise by 1 metre by 2100, putting wildlife in low-lying areas at risk (courtesy: Dara Veillette)

Sea levels are projected to rise by 1 metre by the year 2100, and that could spell disaster for low-lying areas.

A new study published by a team of USGS researchers is particularly concerned for the Northwestern Hawaii Islands (NWHI), a world heritage site comprised of various wildlife sanctuaries.

Researchers collaborated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA to acquire and analyze high-resolution data, allowing them to predict high risk areas and the percentage of habitat loss, should current climate trends continue. 

A 1 metre rise in sea level would claim appoximately 4 percent of NWHI'S land mass, while a 2 metre rise would equate to a 26 percent loss.

The complete study was published on the USGS website earlier this week.

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