As climate change threatens Pacific Islands, some atolls have been growing. Now scientists have figured out why

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“You can still see an island grow at a time when most people and most models would suggest they should be eroding,” said the study’s co-author Murray Ford, an expert in Pacific reef island systems from Auckland University.
Ford and Paul Kench, from Simon Fraser University in Canada, compared the island’s land mass in aerial photos from 1943 and 2015. They also radiocarbon-dated sediment deposited on the island to find out when the coral remnants were alive, and discovered that sediment on parts of the island had been deposited after 1950, suggesting the island’s growth is relatively new.
At the same time, global sea levels have been rising. Satellite data shows waters around the Marshall Islands have risen about 7 millimeters (0.3 inches) each year since 1993, according to a Pacific Climate Change Science country report. That’s more than the global average of 2.8 to 3.6 millimeters (0.11 to 0.14 inches) per year.
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