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The Pacific's low-lying reef islands are likely to change shape in response to climate change, rather than simply sinking beneath rising seas and becoming uninhabitable as previously assumed, new research has found....

The researchers said evidence that such islands slowly change like shifting sands had profound implications for climate change planning in affected nations. Co-author Murray Ford of Auckland University said low-lying reef islands appeared more resilient than previously thought....

The researchers created a 1:50 scale model of Tuvalu's Fatato Island in a 20-metre (66-foot) flume tank to test the impact of rising seas and increasing storm surges caused by climate change. They found the crest of the island became higher and the entire landmass shifted across the underlying reef....

New Zealand's progressive government entered office in 2017 with a policy of creating a world-first visa that recognised climate change refugees fleeing their swamped homelands. But it quietly shelved the idea last year after receiving feedback from islanders, who wanted relief efforts to concentrate on saving their homes rather than easing access to new ones elsewhere.

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