News

22 February 2013

CRCSI on the ABC

A project to map the topography of Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Samoa to plan for rising sea levels has begun.

The project uses laser equipment to create a 3D map of the islands showing ground elevation, vegetation, canopy height and building placement.

The technical advisor from the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information, Dr Nathan Quadros, said the project will ultimately allow locals to plan for changes in the coastal environment.

Audio: Nathan Quadros speaks to Pacific Beat (ABC News)

"Pretty much it's the most detailed mapping you can do at this stage," he told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat.

Dr Quadros recently travelled to Tonga as part of a four-member team to meet with government representatives and discuss the project.

He said the mapping is done by aircraft, which fly over the islands and map millions of different points, creating a detailed 3D map.

"We can use models of sea level rise to detect low-lying areas or areas that may be at risk on each one of these islands," he said.

He said a repeat survey would need to be done in the event of a major change in the islands, due to erosion or earthquake damage.

The Australian aid-funded project will also train locals in how to use the data to plan for the changes in sea level.

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