FIVE small Pacific Islands were completely submerged underwater due to rising sea levels over the past seven decades, based on a recent study published in Environmental Research Letters.

The sunken islands were part of the Solomon Islands, an archipelago of hundreds of islands in the east of Papua New Guinea and northwest of Vanuatu.

The discovery is thought to be the first scientific confirmation of the impact of climate change on coastlines in the Pacific, according to Australian researchers.

Another six islands have lost more than 20 percent of their surface area, forcing communities to relocate as the shoreline closes in on their homes.

These islands have seen swathes of land turned into sea, destroying entire villages with it. One of them was Nuatambu island, home to 25 families, which has lost 11 houses and half its inhabitable area since 2011, the research said.

Waters in the Solomon Islands have seen an annual rise of as much as 10 milimeters for the past two decades. The study looked at 33 islands using aerial and satellite imagery from 1947 to 2014.

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