A view of the Pacific Ocean. (Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

5 Pacific islands have vanished because of sea-level rise, study says

Sea-level rise has impacted at least 11 Pacific islands, causing severe erosion and at least five to completely vanish.

Researchers used satellite and historical aerial imagery from 1947 to 2014, analyzing 33 islands that are part of the Solomon Islands chain to map these changes.

The sparsely populated chain of low-lying islands making them susceptible to sea-level rise.

"So the Solomon Islands are like a natural laboratory that gives us a good indication of what we can expect globally,”  lead researcher Simon Albert told CNN. “What we are seeing there will become the norm.”

Researchers found that parts of the Solomon Islands have seen almost a half foot of sea-level rise from 1994-2014, according to the study published in Environmental Research Letters. Sea level has risen .28-.39 inches yearly during that time. Global sea level rise is expected to reach .19 annually in the second half of the century, according to the International Panel for Climate Change.

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At least two villages and 10 homes were destroyed. Researchers also found that some islands in a more sheltered area had gained about 20 percent in size. The five islands that disappeared were not inhabited but were of significant size. Communities also used them for fishing, according to CNN.

Taro, the capital, is going to relocate because of the threat of sea-level rise.

"This kind of relocation will be incredibly complex and likely cost hundreds of millions of dollars, which will make the country more reliant on international help," Albert told CNN.

Researchers noted climate change, wave energy and wind were factors in erosion.

 “Understanding the drivers of this rapid shoreline recession and contrasting erosion rates between different areas within this region is critical to provide a foundation for local adaptation strategies,” researchers wrote in the study. “Climate change induced sea-level rise is anticipated to be one of the greatest challenges for humanity over the coming century.”

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