“The very existence of low-slung tropical islands seems improbable, a glitch. A nearly seamless meeting of land and sea, peeking up like an illusion above the violent oceanic expanse, they are among the most marginal environments humans have ever called home.

And indeed, when the world began paying attention to global warming decades ago, these islands, which form atop coral reefs in clusters called atolls, were quickly identified as some of the first places climate change might ravage in their entirety. As the ice caps melted and the seas crept higher, these accidents of geologic history were bound to be corrected and the tiny islands returned to watery oblivion, probably in this century.

Then, not very long ago, researchers began sifting through aerial images and found something startling. They looked at a couple dozen islands first, then several hundred, and by now close to 1,000. They found that over the past few decades, the islands’ edges had wobbled this way and that, eroding here, building there. By and large, though, their area hadn’t shrunk. In some cases, it was the opposite: They grew. The seas rose, and the islands expanded with them.”

From New York Times.