Geomapping to monitor Pacific sea levels

Geomapping to monitor Pacific sea levels

Geomapping to monitor Pacific sea levels

Updated 22 February 2013, 15:57 AEST

Technicians map the geography of Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Samoa to monitor rising sea levels.

A project to map the geography of Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Samoa to monitor 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.

Technical adviser from the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information, Nathan Quadros, said the project will ultimately allow locals to monitor changes in the environment.

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

Mr 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 monitor the changes in sea level.