Climate change in Tuvalu
Climate change is of a concern in Tuvalu since the average height of the atolls is less than 2 metres (6.6 ft) above sea level, with the highest point of one of the islands being about 4.6 metres (15 ft) above sea level. Tuvalu could be one of the first nations to experience the effects of sea level rise. Not only could parts of the island be flooded but the rising saltwater table could also destroy deep rooted food crops such as coconut, pulaka, and taro.
Climate systems that affect Tuvalu 
Tuvalu participates in the operations of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP). The climate of the Pacific region at the equator is influenced by a number of factors; the science of which is the subject of continuing research. The SPREP described the climate of Tuvalu as being:
- “[I]nfluenced by a number of factors such as trade wind regimes, the paired Hadley cells and Walker circulation, seasonally varying convergence zones such as the South Pacific Convergence Zone (SPCZ), semi-permanent subtropical high-pressure belts, and zonal westerlies to the south, with the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) as the dominant mode of year to year variability (…). The Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) also is a major mode of variability of the tropical atmosphere-ocean system of the Pacific on times scales of 30 to 70 days (…), while the leading mode with decadal time-scale is the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO) (…). A number of studies suggest the influence of global warming could be a major factor in accentuating the current climate regimes and the changes from normal that come with ENSO events (…).”
The sea level in Tuvalu varies as a consequence of a wide range of atmospheric and oceanographic influences. The 2011 report of the Pacific Climate Change Science Program published by the Australian Government, describes a strong zonal (east‑to-west) sea-level slope along the equator, with sea level west of the International Date Line (180° longitude) being about a half metre higher than found in the eastern equatorial Pacific and South American coastal regions. The trade winds that push surface water westward create this zonal tilting of sea level on the equator. Below the equator a higher sea level can also be found about 20° to 40° south (Tuvalu is spread out from 6° to 10° south).
The Pacific Climate Change Science Program Report (2011) describes the year-by-year volatility in the sea-level as resulting from the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO):
- “ENSO has a major influence on sea levels across the Pacific and this can influence the occurrence of extreme sea levels. During La Niña events, strengthened trade winds cause higher than normal sea levels in the western tropical Pacific, and lower than normal levels in the east. Conversely, during El Niño events, weakened trade winds are unable to maintain the normal gradient of sea level across the tropical Pacific, leading to a drop in sea level in the west and a rise in the east. Pacific islands within about 10° of the equator are most strongly affected by ENSO‑related sea-level variations."
Measuring climate change effects in Tuvalu 
In 1978, a tide gauge was installed at Funafuti by the University of Hawaii. It has measured a sea rise of 1.2 mm per year over 23 years—a figure consistent with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) global mean estimate of 1 to 2 mm per year over the 20th century. The 40 cm rise in sea level predicted by the IPCC by the end of the 21st century (not including potential increases in sea level rise from dynamic ice sheet behaviour) could have significant effects for Tuvalu. However the uncertainty as to the accuracy of the data from this tide gauge resulted in a modern Aquatrak acoustic gauge being installed in 1993 by the Australian National Tidal Facility (NTF) as part of the AusAID-sponsored South Pacific Sea Level and Climate Monitoring Project.
The highest elevation is 4.6 metres (15 ft) above sea level on Niulakita, which gives Tuvalu the second-lowest maximum elevation of any country (after the Maldives). However, the highest elevations are typically in narrow storm dunes on the ocean side of the islands which are prone to over topping in tropical cyclones, such as occurred with Cyclone Bebe.
There is further contention as to whether saltwater encroachment that is destroying the gardens for pulaka, taro and coconut palms is the consequence of changes in the sea level; or the consequence of the fresh water being extracted from the water table or the consequence of the creation of the borrow pits, which are the result of the extraction of coral to build the runway at Funafuti during World War II.
Estimates as to changes in the sea level relative to the islands of Tuvalu 
As to whether there are measurable changes in the sea level relative to the islands of Tuvalu is a contentious issue. The uncertainty with the pre-1993 sea level records from Funafuti meant that records over a longer period needs was needed, so that the 2002 estimates of sea level change relative to the islands of Tuvalu was presented to acknowledge a degree of uncertainty as to the conclusions made from the available data. Part of the uncertainty relates to the impact of El Niño events which (as described above) can actually result in sea levels falling by 11 inches (28.4 centimeters) as compared to the sea level during a La Niña events.
The 2011 report of the Pacific Climate Change Science Program of Australian concludes: "The sea-level rise near Tuvalu measured by satellite altimeters since 1993 is about 5 mm per year."
There are observable changes that have occurred over the last ten to fifteen years that show Tuvaluans that there have been changes to sea levels. Those observable changes include sea water bubbling up through the porous coral rock to form pools on each high tide and flooding of low-lying areas including the airport on a regular during spring tides and king tides.
2011 report of the Pacific Climate Change Science Program 
The 2011 report of the "Pacific Climate Change Science Program" of Australian concludes in relation to Tuvalu that over the course of the 21st century:
• Surface air temperature and sea‑surface temperature are projected to continue to increase (very high confidence).
• Annual and seasonal mean rainfall is projected to increase (high confidence).
• The intensity and frequency of days of extreme heat are projected to increase (very high confidence).
• The intensity and frequency of days of extreme rainfall are projected to increase (high confidence).
• The incidence of drought is projected to decrease (moderate confidence).
• Tropical cyclone numbers are projected to decline in the south-east Pacific Ocean basin (0–40ºS, 170ºE–130ºW) (moderate confidence).
• Ocean acidification is projected to continue (very high confidence).
• Mean sea-level rise is projected to continue (very high confidence).
National response 
Tuvalu faces challenges which will be exacerbated by climate change, those challenges are: i) Coastal erosion, saltwater intrusion and increasing vector and water borne diseases due to sea level rise; ii) Inadequate potable water due to less rainfall and prolonged droughts; iii) Pulaka pit salinisation due to saltwater intrusion; and iv) Decreasing fisheries population.
Tuvalu’s local community governance, called the Falekaupule, responds to the climate change problem with the combined efforts of several local outlying bodies. The main office, aptly named the Department of Environment, is responsible for coordinating the Non-Governmental Organizations, Religious Bodies, and Stakeholders. Each of the named groups are responsible for implementing Tuvalu’s National Adaptation Programme of Action, the main plan to adapt to the adverse effects of human use and climate change.
Tuvalu has said it wants all its energy to come from renewable sources by 2020.
Tuvalu's role at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference 
In December 2009 the islands stalled talks at United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, fearing some other developing countries were not committing fully to binding deals on a reduction in carbon emission, their chief negotiator stated "Tuvalu is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change, and our future rests on the outcome of this meeting." When the conference failed to reach a binding, meaningful agreement, Tuvalu's representative Ian Fry said, "It looks like we are being offered 30 pieces of silver to betray our people and our future... Our future is not for sale. I regret to inform you that Tuvalu cannot accept this document."
Fry's speech to the conference was a highly impassioned plea for countries around the world to address the issues of man-made global warming resulting in climate change. The five-minute speech addressed the dangers of rising sea levels to Tuvalu and the world. In his speech Fry claimed man-made global warming to be currently "the greatest threat to humanity", and ended with an emotional "the fate of my country rests in your hands".
See also 
- Talofa! Tuvalu Met Service
- South Pacific Sea Level and Climate Monitoring Project (SPSLCMP)
- Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program
- Renewable energy in Tuvalu
- Regional effects of global warming
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- Future not for sale: climate deal rejected
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- Tuvalu and global warming
- Small Is Beautiful - a lobby group set up to help the island nation
- Tuvalu's options on setting up defences against the rising sea
- King Tide | The Sinking of Tuvalu
- The Luaseuta Foundation
- Climate Change - Tuvalu - ACF Newsource
- Tuvalu: That Sinking Feeling from PBS Rough Cut
- Environment: Tiny Tuvalu Fights for Its Literal Survival IPS News