SPC GeoScience Division

Bonriki Indundation Vulnerability Assessment (BIVA)

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Bonriki is the largest of many islets in the pacific atoll of Tarawa, the capital of the Republic of Kiribati. Because of the islet's size and geology, it is the location of Tarawa's only international airport as well as the underground reservoir that supplies South Tarawa with the majority of its fresh water. Both of these critical infrastructural resources are potentially threatened by the predicted sea level rise in the region associated with climate change.

The Australian-funded Bonriki Inundation Vulnerability Assessment (BIVA) will provide the Kiribati government and development partners with a better understanding of the short and long term risks as well as a strategy for protecting these resources. The project has been supported by the Pacific-Australia Climate Change Science and Adaptation Planning Program (PACCSAPP) and will develop a 3D model of the island's freshwater lens.

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Physical Oceanographer
Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 June 2013 15:15  

Newsflash

New technologies will change the way people live in Pacific Island countries. This is according to Dr Wolf Forstreuter, GIS and Remote Sensing Unit specialist at SOPAC, the Applied Geoscience and Technology Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).

Dr Forstreuter said recent work to detect and analyse changes in vegetation on the Kiribati Islands of Aranuka and Maiana had important implications for all Pacific Islands.

“By overlaying recent satellite imagery on maps that were drawn from aerial photographs taken in 1969 of the Kiribati islands of Aranuka and Maiana, it is possible to detect any changes that have occurred,” he said.

“Not only can we assess the impact of people on the environment, we can assess whether this has been positive or negative. One of the surprises of this study was to discover that new mangrove areas are visible on the coast of both islands.”

Dr Forstreuter said this could be because of the 1969 photography-taking place during high tide, followed by misinterpretation by mapmakers in Britain.

“But the very real possibility is that the mangroves are increasing because they have been protected by the island’s inhabitants,” he said.

The comparison between the older maps overlaid with recent satellite images also shows the spread of settlements and changes to bodies of water.

“This information becomes a useful planning tool for the future. Where should settlements develop? What water is available for such development? Where and what types of farming should be planned to support these settlements?” he said.