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Journal Articles Journal of Coastal Research Year : 2013

Multidecadal Atoll Shoreline Change on Manihi and Manuae, French Polynesia


As interest in the impact of sea-level rise on atoll islands increases, this study contributes to the growing database of observations of shoreline changes on South Pacific Islands, where few observations are currently available. Historical aerial photographs and recent satellite images were used to evaluate multidecadal surface area and shoreline changes on two atolls in French Polynesia: Manihi and Manuae. During the 40- to 50-year study period, atoll island surface area primarily increased or remained stable on Manihi and decreased on Manuae. Distinct ocean and lagoon shoreline changes were observed in different geographical regions of each atoll. On Manihi, ocean shoreline accretion rates were larger on the NW rim than the SE rim. On Manuae, atoll islands on the NE rim were eroding on the lagoon side and accreting on the ocean side, whereas islands on the SE rim showed the opposite trend. Sea-level rise is often thought to cause atoll erosion, but in this study, lagoon and ocean shorelines both eroded and accreted over a period when sea-level rise rates were greater than the global mean. Surface area changes related directly to anthropogenic activities were identified on only two of the 47 atoll islands. After completing a classification of the incident wave field, it was hypothesized that waves have an important role in controlling the shoreline change variability. Additional field surveys and in situ observations are needed to validate this hypothesis and to understand better island response to changing forcing factors.


Earth Sciences
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Dates and versions

hal-00790723 , version 1 (20-02-2013)



Marissa L. Yates, Gonéri Le Cozannet, Manuel Garcin, Emilie Salai, Patrice Walker. Multidecadal Atoll Shoreline Change on Manihi and Manuae, French Polynesia. Journal of Coastal Research, 2013, 29 (4), pp.870-882. ⟨10.2112/JCOASTRES-D-12-00129.1⟩. ⟨hal-00790723⟩
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