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Floating islands could save the sinking Maldives

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Faced with rising sea levels, Dutch-designed artificial islands could be the only option for the low-lying Maldives.

Climate change has not been kind to the Maldives. Sitting an average of just five feet above sea level, the tiny island nation scores the distinction of being the lowest country on Earth and because of rising seas, it runs the risk of being completely uninhabitable by 2100.

To alter the country’s scary fate, however, the Maldivian government has teamed up with Dutch architectural firm, Dutch Docklands International, to replace the sinking land with artificial “floating” islands.

Tethered to the ocean floor by cables, the structures will stay above water no matter how high sea levels reach and unlike man-made islands of sand and rubble, the new structures won’t have as many adverse effects on the environment.

Popular Science explains:

In the Netherlands, the company has already built floating islands for prisons and housing from slabs of concrete and polystyrene foam. For the Maldives, it will anchor similar structures to the seabed using cables or telescopic mooring piles, making landforms that are stable even in storms. The design disturbs only a small patch of the seafloor while preserving natural currents. And many smaller islands are more ecologically sound than one large one because they cast smaller shadows on the water, minimizing the impact on sea life.

While current plans include one island for luxury housing and another for a golf course, the company is in the midst of plans to construct islands with affordable housing in the near future.

[via io9 via Popular Science]

Images: Waterstudio

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Sarah Korones

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Sarah Korones is a freelance writer based in New York. She has written for Psychology Today and Boston's Weekly Dig. She holds a degree from Tufts University. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure