The Sinking of Tuvalu

Tuvalu is a small island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean.  With a maximum elevation of 4.6 m and an average elevation of only 2m about sea level, Tuvalu is one of the most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change.

The increase in water temperature has caused water to expand while melting glaciers and ice sheets on land are increasing the volume of water, resulting in increased sea levels.  It has been suggested by observations that sea levels are currently rising by 3.3 mm/ year. This may not seem like very much but for a low laying atoll such as Tuvalu it has a huge impact. Rising sea levels and stronger ocean currents have already resulted in the salinization of their soil and as a result drought. The seawater seeps into the soils and contaminates the growing environment for their crops, greatly impacting their self-sustainability. Additionally, the salinization of their ground water has not only impacted their crops but also ruined their main source of fresh drinking water. This has left Tuvaluans more dependent on rainfall, which has become more rare due to the El Nino effect. The El Nino effect increases the chances of drought conditions, created by the effect of changes in ocean temperature.

Filmmaker Juriaan Booij, created the documentary entitled The King Tide, along with a corresponding book called The Sinking of Tuvalu. Booij uses these forms of media to raise awareness of Tuvalu’s vulnerability to climate change and also gives an insight to the unique way of Tuvaluan life. Plans of evacuation are already being establish for the Tuvaluan’s and if global temperature rise continues at its current rate Tuvalu will become the world’s first nation to be “washed away due to the effects of climate change”.

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