Global sea levels are rising and the world’s land ice is disappearing. Sea levels have risen 6 to 8 inches in the past 100 years, and Antarctica has been losing more than 100 cubic kilometers of ice per year since 2002, according to NASA satellite data.
By the year 2100, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that sea levels will rise as much as 20 inches.
While rising sea levels ultimately influence the entire planet, they pose the greatest threat to the islands currently residing at sea level.
Here are some of the islands — many of them small nations — likely to face this crisis first.
Solomon Islands is a sovereign country consisting of six major islands and over 900 smaller islands in Oceania lying to the east of Papua New Guinea and northwest of Vanuatu and covering a land area of 28,400 square kilometres (11,000 sq mi). The country’s capital, Honiara, is located on the island of Guadalcanal.
The country takes its name from the Solomon Islands archipelago, which is a collection of Melanesian islands that also includes the North Solomon Islands (part of Papua New Guinea), but excludes outlying islands, such as Rennell and Bellona, and the Santa Cruz Islands.
The islands have been inhabited for thousands of years. In 1568, the Spanish navigator Álvaro de Mendaña was the first European to visit them, naming them the Islas Salomón.
Britain defined its area of interest in the Solomon Islands archipelago in June 1893, when Captain Gibson R.N., of HMS Curacoa, declared the southern Solomon Islands a British protectorate.
During World War II, the Solomon Islands campaign (1942–1945) saw fierce fighting between the United States and the Empire of Japan, such as in the Battle of Guadalcanal.
Five of the Solomon Islands in the western Pacific have disappeared due to rising sea levels over the past seven decades, according to a study published in Environmental Research Letters.
Another six islands there have lost more than 20 percent of their surface area, forcing people to relocate. Sea levels in the Solomon Islands have been climbing by 7 millimeters per year since 1994.
“The human element of this is alarming. Working alongside people on the frontline who have lost their family home — that they’ve had for four to five generations — it’s quite alarming,” the study’s lead author, Simon Albert of the University of Queensland, told CNN.