ABSTRACT

Coastal protection devices are visible in many shapes and sizes all around the island of Rarotonga in the South Pacific. The islands are malleable and the coastal environment so dynamic that the ongoing changes can be linked too many different interacting processes at once: seasonal and decadal weather patterns, extreme weather events and sea level rise in addition to the local constructions. Climate science projections state that the process is now inverted, and accelerated sea level rise due to global warming will contribute significantly to coastal erosion on the Pacific islands. The intensified focus on global warming and its impact on small islands internationally have increased the number of scientific studies carried out on prehistoric and present changes, and computational models are used to estimate future wave transformation, storm surge and the rate of wave overtopping.