Climate Change in Pacific Islands Ecosystem

Essay details

Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.

Climate change has affected human’s life activities, especially island nations. We as humans should take a move as soon as possible to prevent further harm. Although, many pacific island countries are small and seemingly far away position, they are the first line of climate change. Due to changes in rain, sea level, and the temperature of the land and sea surface, the ecology on island are endangered, limiting the availability of natural resources. Moreover, some Pacific islands country like Palau, Solomon, and the Marshall island are at risk of sinking beneath by the rising sea level. This essay focuses on the island impact of climate change on islands, in particular, their nature ecosystems and the current situation of climate change in the Pacific island .

Essay due? We'll write it for you!

Any subject

Min. 3-hour delivery

Pay if satisfied

Get your price

The Pacific Islands Forum including 27 nation. The area includes three main regions: Polynesia, Melanesia, and the federated states of Micronesia. (2) Most Pacific island countries contain small territory, population, and natural resources, excepting Independent State of Papua New Guinea. Moreover, they always carry the disadvantage of development of economy, and some of them are listed as least developed countries, such as Solomon island. On the geology, Pacific Island countries sits on a strange location that between the connection of three plate: the Pacific, American and Antarctic, and near the equator. Due to these additial natural geographic conditions, many nature disasters always come to visit. (2) As on the joint of the earth plates, the Pacific Islands contains highly Earthquakes and volcanic activities contain high frequency of earthquakes and volcanic activities. According to the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) of the United Nations, they are the ecotone, a place is easy to get influenced by the original and outside environmental problems. (2) With the raising of green gas and pollution, it creates many serious negative environmental problems; for instance, increasing of tropical cyclone intensity, raising sea level, more frequent coral bleaching, extreme weather, seawater intrusion, eroded coasts, and changes in rainfall pattern. To be more specific, soil salinization and seawater erosion pose a threat to the agricultural industries in which the island countries depend for survival; increasing of extreme climate, and the frequency of climatic disasters such as hurricanes and tropical storms also raise the drought part in some island countries; along with temperature change, the spread of infectious diseases of the hot belt has accelerated.

Let’s utilizing the earth quake of 2015 as the feedback example, there were 19 cases earthquake above level 6 in the Pacific Island region. Fiji Islands and the Solomon Islands have each occurred 7 and 6 times, and another 3 times are in Vanuatu and Tonga. (4) Earthquake will not only cause extreme weather like tsunami to coast cities, but also cause the leak of CO2 from the storage layer due to producing fault. (3) There are many places contains potential CO2 deposit inside of different layers, and even an earthquake that smaller than M4 level will still cause a tiny distances movement of thousand meter’s plate which may cause permeable water road for CO2 layer to reach the surface and run into the atmosphere. (3) In addition, since 2000, there are 13 serious hurricanes. It does not only destroy residential buildings, but also cut off electricity and tap water supply, inundated roads and bridges, cause the flood. During the 2004’s “Herta” Niue’s most building and all the crops are destroyed, and the business district was completely unrecognizable.

Another serious extreme weathers that always attack Pacific island countries are hurricane and tropical storm. To form the hurricane, high temperature of sea surface and the earth self-rotation are required. When the sea surface temperature is higher than 299.15K (26℃), the warm gas, above the sea surface, will rise and squeezes out cold gas from upper space to lower space near sea surface with higher temperature. Then with heating the cold gas, and warm gas cool down, warm gas will repeat step before which creates a storm. Due to the self-rotation of earth, the storm will whirl too. (15) If the sea surface temperature is high enough, the size and wind speed of storm will increase until form a hurricane. Until this step a positive feedback has been created. Hurricane can lead to some serious short-term damage of ecosystem, especially on animals such as birds. (5)

Seychelles may be the most significant example that easy to be affected by unstable weather. Seychelles is a group island located on the western Indian Ocean that created by over 100 little islands which 40% are made by granite, and others made by corals with cliffy terrain. Thus, the basic economy income of Seychelles is limited to the tour and fishery which are both depend on weather. Based on Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, it shows the weather feedback contains relationship with climate change which can be declared that climate change can affect the ecosystem due to different regions and times. (1) Moreover, according to the evaluation on climate change effect on Seychelles from Assessments of Impacts and Adaptations to Climate Change (AIACC) Project, it shows that climate change has affect Seychelles in rising sea levels, changing of rainfall percentage and raising of sea-surface temperature (SST). (1) On the ecology part, temperature change, and rainfall take main reasons of coral bleaching. In addition, the sea level rise may be the biggest threat to ecosystem, specially on the temperature change effect on coral branches .

Since the 1880 the first record, IPCC lays out the data of rising temperature in global size: 0.6℃±0.2℃. (1) Although, the change in tropical area does not seems so significant, it still damages the coast ecosystem.

During the past 100 years, Seychelles always contains a huge difference between every year. According to the graph of rainfall of Mahe, (data 1) the smallest rainfall shows during 1905-1922 and 1938-1958; the biggest rainfall happens before 1905, 1923-1937, and 1959-1970. Different phases contain huge gaps that reach 500ml. (1) During 1938-1958’s summer, Seychelles had the longer arid term than early years. Compare to 1905 and 1959-1970, these years contains the larger amount of raindrop. Based on the comparison, the idea has been noticed: subtropical high-pressure region has moved near to equator and the limitation of the intertropical troughs to two cramped sides of equators. (5)

More recently through 1972-1997, the rainfall is raising step by step and reach the top on 1997. However, this change maybe caused by El Niño-Southern Oscillation. In paragraph 2, El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the main reason affect the climate change on Seychelles, and La Niña is the main reason that causes the decrease of rainfall during study time. When the ENSO happens, nature disasters always take place in Seychelles. Nevertheless, it also shows up when ENSO does not befall. Through analyzing from 18th century to 20th century, ENSO phenomenon shows a cycle for 2-5 years. (15) However, after the 19th century, ENSO’s frequency changes that it increases and La Niña’s happening frequency decrease.

El Niño-Southern Oscillation mainly refers to the abnormally warming of the sea temperature in the tropical oceans in the eastern and central Pacific Ocean, which changes the global climate model, causing drought in some areas and excessive rainfall in other areas. On the other hand, La Niña is similar with ENSO with only one difference that refer to the abnormally cooling sea temperature.

Through Seychelles Meteorological Services’ data from 1970 to 1997 (data 3), it presents a significant increasing of Mahe´ island’s temperature in 0.25℃ per ten years, but this data does not include the main earth weather events. (1)

Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean (JISAO), organization belong to University of Washington, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) gives out their data. Based on the data, it points out the abnormal SST present compare to 1961-1990’s data. Through the slope of data, it displaces an increase direction of temperature. (data 4, data 5) (1)

As an island country whose economy is depend on the fisheries and tour, drinking water resource becomes a very important element. With the development of the tourism, more places have been built outside where major water storage cannot reach, and it extends the requirement of drinking water. For example, the water requirement of Seychelles has increased 13890KL and 13950KL in 2005 and 2010. (7) Thus, the precipitation become the most important element that decide the prosperity of Seychelles.

In order to make sure enough water supplements, checking the drought period is necessary. By viewing graph 4, it shows in the past ten years, there are 85% of 2,4 and 8 months of drought phase. (1) In 1942 to 2003, five years contains very small amount of precipitation between April and July. (1) Before 20th century, it shows that only 6 arid period happen, and always happen in August to November in past ten years. (1) These data show a result that in the past decade years, exceeding dry percentage increase largely. Thinking back to the ENSO phenomenon, it contains potential relationship.

Coral is one of the most diverse and productive ecosystems on the earth, and Seychelles contains the broadest area of coral in west part of Indian ocean. (8) This beautiful place is created by the polyps which is a small sac-like animal. They absorb calcium and carbon dioxide from seawater during growth and then secretes limestone into a shell for survival. Although, a polyp is small like a grain of rice, hundreds and thousands of them live and die together through one generation to the next that limestone build together creates a reef as home for every ocean creature. Symbiodinium is a kind of seaweed that live with polyps that they absorb carbon dioxide released by polyps and give oxygen and nutrient as feedback, and it provides color to coral that make them see bright. Thus, without one of them, coral reefs will die. When symbiodinium leaves or die, the color that is displaced by symbiodinium will disappear, and make the coral turn to white.

A program counted the value of coral to be 370 million dollars, which is ten percent of Seychelles GDP. (1) The result of bleaching of coral is critical. Moreover, it attracts visitor to see the view under the water which can provides huge benefits one the island economy. Coral also provide an ocean living space for 25% of species of fishes, (17) and work with seaweed to photosynthesis in order to create O2. Thus, the impact of death of corals are critical.

Nevertheless, large number of coral reefs, 95%, died in 1998 due to the warm-water episode near to the Seychelles archipelago. (11) Obviously, coral will not die without any reason, through this disaster, it directly lays out that climate change is the murderer from the rising of sea temperature.

In 1994, Goreau and Hayes collects the sea temperature data through artificial satellite reveal the relation between rising sea temperature and coral bleaching. (13) Although, the data from artificial satellite could not be so precisely that lower than 0.5℃, it can match the time of coral bleaching. For instance, during 1991 and 1995, only the sea temperature is cross over the max number which are Polynesia’s March and Tahiti’s May. (13)

However, in 1997-1998, ENSO raised the sea water temperature that cause the death of ninety five percent of coral reefs which is the highest temperature since 1961. (1) Overheat temperature forces polyps to release symbiodinium which makes the coral death, bleaching. (data 6)

Due to the climate change, nature sources of Pacific island counties have been affected and limited. Comparing to the past million years, it shows an obvious direction of global temperature rising, and has already cause the damage of the ecosystem especially for these island countries. Utilizing data to analyze, it places a way to several fact of Seychelles as an example, increasing chance of extreme weather, decrease of rainfall, and continue rising of sea and air temperature. Thus, the requirement of water source of Seychelles will become a problem that should come out with a solution. Moreover, with the bleaching of coral, tourism will be affected which cause the economy of Seychelles decrease, so that government should set a group to solve and develop this kind of situation.





  1. Rolph Payet, and Wills Agricole, June 2006, Climate Change in the Seychelles: Implications for Water and Coral Reefs, 182-188.
  2. Mark D. Zobacka,1 and Steven M. Gorelick, May 4, 2012, Earthquake triggering and large-scale geologic storage of carbon dioxide, 10165




  1. Rolph Payet, and Wills Agricole, June 2006, Climate Change in the Seychelles: Implications for Water and Coral Reefs, 182-188.
  2.  Guixia Lv, Denghua Zhang, June 2017, The current situation of climate change in the Pacific island countries and the response of all partie, 59
  3.  Mark D. Zobacka,1 and Steven M. Gorelick, May 4, 2012, Earthquake triggering and large-scale geologic storage of carbon dioxide, 10165
  4. C. S. Ramage, September 1958, Hurricane development, 227
  6.  S. G. H. Philander, March 1983, El Nino Southern Oscillation phenomena
  7.  PUC. 2000. Assessment of Water Demands in Seychelles. Government of Seychelles
  8. Jennings, S., Marshall, S., Cuet, P. and Naim, O. 2000. the Seychelles. In: Coral Reefs of the Indian Ocean. McClanahan, T., Sheppard, C. and Obura, D. (eds.). Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 383–410.
  9.  Seychelles National Meteorological Services SST Data from 1970 to 1997. Government of Seychelles, Victoria, Seychelles.
  10.  Wilkinson, C., Linden, O., Cesar, H., Hodgson, G., Rubens, J. and Strong, A.E. 1999. Ecological and socioeconomic impacts of 1998 coral mortality in the Indian Ocean: an ENSO impact and a warning of future change? AMBIO 26, 188–196.
  11. Hoegh-Guldberg, O. 1999. Coral bleaching, climate change and the future of the world’s coral reefs. Mar. Freshw. Res. 50, 839–866.
  12.  B. E, Brown, November 1996, Coral bleaching: causes and consequences, S131
  13.  Spencer, T., Teleki, T.A., Bradshaw, C. and Spalding, M. 2000. Coral bleaching in the southern Seychelles during the 1997-1998 Indian Ocean warm event. Mar. Pollut. Bull. 40, 569–586
  14.  Koutavas, A., Lynch-Stieglitz, J., Marchitto, T.M. Jr. and Sachs, J.P. 2002. El Nin˜o-like pattern in Ice Age tropical Pacific sea surface temperature. Science 297, 226–230

Get quality help now

Prof. Carstensen

Verified writer

Proficient in: Environment Problems, Experience

4.8 (459 reviews)
“ Excellent! She is very professional, meet all the requirements, fast turn around time, communicates, and an overall 100/10. ”

+75 relevant experts are online

More Climate Change Related Essays

banner clock
Clock is ticking and inspiration doesn't come?
We`ll do boring work for you. No plagiarism guarantee. Deadline from 3 hours.

We use cookies to offer you the best experience. By continuing, we’ll assume you agree with our Cookies policy.