March 29, 2010

Island Disappears in Bay of Bengal

In 1974, an American satellite introduced the world to a previously undiscovered island, located in the Bay of Bengal. The island became the subject of an ownership dispute, so it was known by more than one name: the people of Bangladesh referred to it as South Talpatti Island, while it was known as New Moore Island or Purbasha in India.

In 1981, an Indian flag was placed on the island, along with a Border Security Forces base, which was frequently visited by Indian naval gunships. The property dispute between Bangladesh and India is now a thing of the past, thanks to climate change.

New Moore Island in the Sunderbans has been completely submerged, said oceanographer Sugata Hazra, a professor at Jadavpur University in Calcutta. Its disappearance has been confirmed by satellite imagery and sea patrols, he said. "What these two countries could not achieve from years of talking, has been resolved by global warming," said Hazra.

Scientists at the School of Oceanographic Studies at the university have noted an alarming increase in the rate at which sea levels have risen over the past decade in the Bay of Bengal.
Until 2000, the sea levels rose about 3 millimeters (0.12 inches) a year, but over the last decade they have been rising about 5 millimeters (0.2 inches) annually, he said.
Another nearby island, Lohachara, was submerged in 1996, forcing its inhabitants to move to the mainland, while almost half the land of Ghoramara island was underwater, he said. At least 10 other islands in the area were at risk as well, Hazra said.
Professor Hazra predicts that 15 per cent of the Indian Sundarbans region on the northern shore of the Bay of Bengal will be submerged by 2020.

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