Water Availability and Food Production

In addition to the coastal and oceanic impacts, small islands are also highly vulnerable to changes in precipitation patterns and consequent changes in water availability. Low-lying atoll islands, such as Kiribati or Tuvalu in the Pacific, depend on fragile groundwater lenses and the availability of fresh water is mostly determined by the ratio of consumptive use to recharge through precipitation (White and Falkland 2009). Both, rising sea-levels as well as inundation and wash-overs caused by storms can lead to salinization and render water resources unfit for human consumption. Simulations of different levels of SLR indicate that at an increase of 40 cm, the thickness of the fresh water lenses may be reduced by 50% permanently. In addition, recovery times from salinity intrusions after cyclone-induced inundation increase to over one year, leading to potential long-term fresh-water deprivation in many Pacific islands (Terry and Chui 2012). Population growth and development-related pollution further increase the pressure on scarce water resources (White and Falkland 2009) and many islands have already been facing serious water shortages in recent years.[1]

  • [1] In 2011 in Tuvalu: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/oct/03/pacific-nation-state- emergency-water; in 2016 in the Marshall Islands: http://thediplomat.com/2016/02/drought-in-the-marshall-islands/ as well as Palau http://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-updates/palau-water-shortage-island-paradise-of-18000-about-to-run-out-of-water/news-story/dd9c92cc9fa06517726bedb5f60ece74.
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