SPC Geoscience Division

Palau

Newsflash

There have been recent reports in the media that particular shorelines in Vanua Levu have experienced significant erosion from wave action since Tropical Cyclone Tomas in March 2010, threatening infrastructure and ancient burial sites. As a result, villagers have been advised to take into account global warming and to relocate to higher grounds (Fiji Times, Saturday, May 15, 2010)

Cyclones are among the most frequently occurring natural disasters in the tropical Pacific, and they are characterised by high waves and strong winds. At the time of tropical cyclone Tomas ocean surface waves up to eight meters high were reported to inundate villages on Vanua Levu. Such an extreme event can lead to coastal erosion or accretion, depending on the configuration of the particular shoreline. It is however difficult to imagine such large waves, and even more difficult to assess their impact without direct measurements in the location concerned.