With an average elevation of only one metre above mean sea level, Tuvalu’s atolls are all highly vulnerable to cyclones, tsunamis, king tides and other extreme tidal or weather events that often result in:
- coastal erosion and the loss of coastal plants and vegetation
- inundation of areas with saltwater, saltwater contamination (incursion) of the freshwater lens, and increased salt spray
These threats are highlighted by the lack of any endemic plant species (i.e. unique to Tuvalu), with almost all of the indigenous plants being common easily-dispersed pan-tropical-Pacific coastal species that can cope successfully in environments with loose shifting sands, soil-less limestone and rock outcrops, high wave action, high salinity and sea spray, periodic flooding, strong sunlight, strong winds and drought.