Tuvalu is an extremely small, isolated atoll island nation, located approximately halfway between Australia and Hawaii and consisting of widely scattered, low-lying islands. The country rarely exceed 3 metres above mean sea level. At its widest point, Tuvalu only spans about 200 meters. Classified as a least-developed country, the islands contain very few natural resources. The primary economic activities of the country are subsistence farming and fishing; income from foreign aid is an important part of the economy. Tuvalu also sells some stamps, coins and, in the last 10 years, has sold use of their Internet domain “.tv”—an action that contributes a substantial amount of revenue to their overall Gross Domestic Product (CIA, 2011).
With its limited resource base, Tuvalu is extremely vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change, variability and extreme weather events. Some of Tuvalu’s adaptation projects include: the development of a disaster plan, the plant-a-tree programme, community water tank projects and seawall construction. Temperatures in Tuvalu range between 26.0 – 32.0 degrees Celsius. The wet season (October – March) brings tropical cyclones which inflict extensive damage on local infrastructure, agriculture and major food sources. The dry season (June – September) is characterised by an increasing number of droughts which contribute to the depletion of freshwater sources. The main source of freshwater in Tuvalu is rainwater. Groundwater resources are no longer suitable for human consumption due to pollution from saltwater instrusion caused by rising sea levels. Salinity intrusion enhanced by the porosity of soil in Tuvalu has destroyed pulaka crops and decreased the yields of various other fruit trees. Rising sea levels combined with extreme weather events is contributing to the inundation of low lying areas. Coastal erosion is a major problem in Tuvalu, particularly on the western side of the islands. As most Tuvaluans live within coastal areas, additional stress is being placed on the already vulnerable marine ecosystem. Rising sea temperatures are also contributing to coral bleaching and decreasing marine productivity. The marine ecosystem is a vital component of Tuvalu’s economy which is dependent on revenue provided by tuna fishing.