Uneasy Waters

8 May 2017

A team of researchers from UQ's School of Civil Engineering is working tirelessly to find an environmental engineering solution for a very human problem in the Solomon Islands, where the lives of entire communities are in turmoil thanks to drastic sea level rises.

Dr Simon Albert wants to solve an urgent, catastrophic environmental engineering conundrum.

He is focused on the watery world of sea-level rise in the Solomon Islands – a ‘natural laboratory’ for one of the greatest challenges humanity has ever faced.

The research is a combined effort, and scientists include Dr Badin Gibbes and Dr Alistair Grinham from UQ’s School of Civil Engineering, as well as Dr John Church from CSIRO, Dr Javier Leon from the University of the Sunshine Coast, and Professor Colin Woodroffe from the University of Wollongong.

Dr Albert has conducted research that can be applied to the challenges faced by society – none more so than the impact of sea-level rise on communities across Melanesia as an early indicator of their devastating potential for the rest of the world.

At least five reef islands in the remote Solomon Islands, ranging from one to five hectares in size, have completely succumbed to sea-level rise and coastal erosion, and a further six islands have been severely eroded.

Solomon Islands
The sea has almost reached the heart of Beniamina Island.