No More Island
March 26, 2010 10:44 AM   Subscribe

An island in the Bay of Bengal, South Talpatti/New Moore Island, disappears under rising seas. The inundation settles a long dispute between India and Bangladesh over the island.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer (17 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Wikipedia for South Talpatti Island.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 10:45 AM on March 26, 2010

Oh arse, not here too...

* Island appears after cyclone.
* Island is made out of material too unstable for either country to put a proper base on it.
* Island reaches 2 meters high at one point (in time and in location, take your pick).

30 or 40 years later, the island has vanished. This could be because
1) The unstable material has washed away
2) The sea level has risen by 2 meters

I think I know which one I'm betting on.
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 10:55 AM on March 26, 2010 [4 favorites]

Very violent. Once away, Crikey.
posted by Mblue at 10:55 AM on March 26, 2010

Is this another LOST discussion or what?
posted by The Whelk at 11:02 AM on March 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

By Jingo!
posted by darksasami at 11:02 AM on March 26, 2010 [3 favorites]

While bilateral discussions were pending to resolve the dispute, on May 9, 1981, India sent an armed ship "INS Sandhayak" with one helicopter and some military personnel to the island. Some huts, tents, one aerial mast and one pole bearing the Indian flag were seen erected there.

All the hubbub about claiming useless territory by planting flags just reminded me of this.

Now that there's been a deus ex machina resolution, time to mug, India and Bangladesh!
posted by joechip at 11:10 AM on March 26, 2010

I think it's worth pointing out that Lost called it in episode ONE of this season.
posted by andromache at 11:10 AM on March 26, 2010

This is interesting. What happens politically if this island emerges again?
posted by iamkimiam at 11:11 AM on March 26, 2010

I guess President Bush was smarter than we thought. Diplomacy through global warming!
posted by msalt at 11:12 AM on March 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

God's being a bit like your mum - 'If you don't play nicely I'm throwing it away and neither of you can have it!'
posted by Abiezer at 11:35 AM on March 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Don't you kind of wish the "There's no such thing as climate change" folks had built their world headquarters on the island?
posted by Cranberry at 12:07 PM on March 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

A little context is in order, methinks:

Increased glacial melt in the Himalayas is adding more water and sediment into the myriad of streams and rivers that flow into the Bay of Bengal. Directly in the path of the outflow are the Sundarban mudflats, where these islands are born, shifted, reshaped and dismantled by a complex system of wave motions, micro- and macro-tidal cycles, and long shore currents. All of these forces are affected, in turn, by the monsoon and cyclonic patterns. Throw in the fact that the Bengal Basin is slowly tilting towards the east due to neo-tectonic movement, forcing greater freshwater input to the Bangladesh Sundarbans, and you can see how one can't really conclude that "rising seas" washed away this pile of least without defining some of the complex and rapidly changing erosional forces at work.
posted by prinado at 1:31 PM on March 26, 2010

I doubt that "rising oceans" is the reason why. I'm more inclined to think that the tsunami eroded the top of it away, and tides and normal wave action finished the job.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 2:36 PM on March 26, 2010

I'm not confused by the influence that rising sea levels (which are on the order of, at best, tens of millimeters annually) might have on erosion. I am confused why the island needs to be above sea level to matter to the international boundary line dispute. Continental shelves, seamounts, and other features are often considered by at least one party in such disputes (and dismissed by the other, of course), particularly in this era of seabed resource extraction.

Using tide-gauge data all over the globe, Church et al. (2004) used reconstruction methods to determine the spatial pattern of sea-level variability during 1950–2000. These results were used to describe regional sea-level changes and suggest values close to 2.0 mm yr in the north Indian Ocean, except the northeastern part of the Bay of Bengal, where values of more than 4 mm yr are found.
posted by dhartung at 3:47 PM on March 26, 2010

I think the issue is which side of the current of the Hariabhanga river the island is on. The river runs along the border. The center of the river is where India and Bangladesh agree that the border lies. The idea is that if the current runs to one side it's India; the other is Bangladesh. See the "long dispute" link, starting about the 5th paragraph.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 10:40 PM on March 26, 2010

Now that there's been a deus ex machina resolution, time to mug, India and Bangladesh!

In my role as an arm-chair strategist, I often interact with a lot of security experts from India and Bangladesh. [Basically, a few friends who went into the strategic studies arena after graduation :) ] All of them are unanimous in their opinion that, of all India's neighbours, the _last_ country India will ever go to war would be Bangladesh.

Reason: Siliguri Corridor, a narrow strip of Indian territory that connects the north-eastern part to the rest of the country. At its narrowest, it's about 21 km; so if and when there's an external attack (read "China"), the first place to attack would be this strip. In which case, trans-shipment rights through Bangladesh between the North East and the rest of the country become extremely crucial.
posted by the cydonian at 11:13 PM on March 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

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