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Tropical Refuge From Global Warming May 4, 2012
South Tarawa - Kiribati
South Tarawa is one of 32 atolls that make up the Republic of Kiribati. The few high points in the nation are scarcely more than 12 feet above sea level.
A chain of coral atolls in the Pacific appears poised to become a haven from the effects of climate change, and from the ravaging repercussions the warming will have on coral ecosystems elsewhere.

A study by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) found that climate change will affect ocean currents in a way that will bring cool, nutrient-rich water up from the deep Pacific and onto the coral reefs that surround Kiribati.

That island nation is made up of 32 atolls and one raised coral island, dispersed along the equator for a total of 1,351 square miles.

WHOI scientists Kristopher Karnauskas and Anne Cohen, using high-resolution computer models, found that the increased upwelling caused by changing currents will reduce the rate of ocean warming around the islands by about 1.25 degrees Fahrenheit per century.

Kiribati is expected to be one of the first countries swamped by rising sea levels caused by global warming.

Plans are being drawn up to relocate the population to higher ground in Fiji.

But the cooler waters could help the remaining marine life in Kiribati’s atolls to survive, while other coral habitats around the world may not be as fortunate.

Photo: File