Tiny Island in Bay of Bengal Disappears into the Sea

Global Warming Makes International Dispute a Moot Point

Tiny New Moore island sinks into the sea.

For thirty years, India and Bangladesh have contested ownership of a tiny rocky outcrop of an island in the Sunderbans known as New Moore Island to the Indians and South Talpatti Island to the Bangladeshis. Now just call it sunk beneath the waves, as rising seas has ended the dispute and claimed the island for itself.

What these two countries could not achieve from years of talking has been resolved by global warming," said Sugata Hazra, a professor at Jadavpur University in Calcultta.

Confirmation of New Moore/South Talpatti's disappearance was made both through sea petrols and satellite imagery Hazra said. Hazra's colleagues at Jadavpur University have noted an "alarming increase" in the rates of sea level rise in the Bay of Bengal over the past decade. Before 2000, sea levels rose in the Bay by about 0.12 inches annually. In the past decade that rate of increase has risen to 0.2 inches every year.

This latest island to disappear under the sea is not the first in the area, and a harbinger of many more to come. The nearby island of Lohachara was overcome by the sea in 1996. Currently half of Ghoramara island is now underwater, and ten other islands in the area are at risk.

The Sunderbans region of India and Bangladesh is habitat for the Bengal tiger and home to world's largest single block of tidal mangrove forest in the world. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) projects the Sunderbans will likely be claimed by rising sea levels within the next sixty years.

Image credit: BBC News

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