A powerful earthquake in 2009 on the island of Samoa triggered a tsunami and caused massive destruction. Researchers say that coupled with the rising sea level caused an acceleration in the sinking of the land along with increased flooding.
Phy.org reports scientists are now looking for ways to more accurately measure the changes.
It’s believed the 2009 earthquake triggered movement on the ocean floor. The third largest island in the Samoan Island chain, Tituila, began going down at a rate of half an inch per year.
“You need to know in detail where the land is going down the fastest,” said Jeanne Sauber, a geophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
This gradual caving is expected to lead to twice as much sea-level rise by 2060 compared to what is already predicted from climate change, according to the Pacific Islands Climate Adaptation Climate Center. This urgency amplifies the need for better tools and prediction models to prepare for rising sea levels in American Samoa.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that between 1948 and 2009 the sea level rose by 9.5 inches every 100 years. After the earthquake, it rose 9.8 inches in just 11 years.
Last month, researchers installed an emergency water level station in Samoa. Its findings will help them understand how sea level change will impact the island.
Richard Ray from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center believes even millimeter changes in sea level can turn into serious problems, reported Ynet News.
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