Researchers say there is evidence that low-lying Pacific islands nations can grow, making them more adaptable to the threat of rising sea levels caused by climate change.
A study by the University of Auckland has found that storm events and waves depositing large amounts of coral and sand have in many cases built up the surface of islands.
Professor Paul Kench, from the university's School of Environment, says islands are not fixed but flexible shifting landforms.
"We have examples in Tuvalu, the Marshalls and the Maldives where islands have grown vertically by as much as 10 to 20 centimetres over the last decade," he told Pacific Beat.
"Through extreme events such as the multiple tsunami that we've experienced in recent decades, and storm events as waves wash up and over top the edges of islands, they can actually carry considerable quantities of sand that then get draped across the island's surface."
Climate change experts have warned low-lying coastal zones and small islands will be vulnerable to loss of land with sea-level rises.
Mr Kench says the research raises questions of how Pacific nations will adapt to changes of their land.
"Now we've started to unlock the box to say that we think the ... landforms that communities live on will still be there, but they are changing in ways that we're only just becoming aware of."
"That raises secondary questions: the islands will change, can we still live on them? How will the potable water resources change? Will communities still be able to grow crops in these settings?"
- Australian Broadcasting Corporation
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