The Federated States of Micronesia
Current Forecast: The Federated States of Micronesia and a Changing Climate
The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) comprises four states that encompass more than 600 islands. Scientists are telling Micronesians there will probably be three more feet of sea-level rise in less than 90 years, with six and a half more feet as an estimated “upper bound.”
FSM’s climate has little seasonal variation in monthly mean maximum and minimum air temperatures, with less than 1.5˚C between the average hottest and coolest months. Sea-surface temperatures around the FSM influence the seasonal variations in air temperature. Much like other Pacific island nations, FSM experience a monsoon season. The main extreme weather events that occur in FSM are droughts, typhoons, storm waves, flooding and landslides.
• The country, in brief. FSM is an independent sovereign island nation in free association with the United States. The islands extend 2,736 km from east to west, forming the Eastern and Western Caroline Islands. The four states in the nation include: Pohnpei (with the FSM’s capital city in Palikir), Kosrae, Chuuk, and Yap. Together, the states cover a longitudinal distance of almost 2,700 km just north of the equator.
• The widely-dispersed islands present a unique challenge to governance, service delivery, and communication in relation to disaster management. Remoteness of outer-island and lagoon communities is a constraint. As a result, although these islands are most vulnerable to hazards, knowledge and awareness of issues such as climate change and disaster-risk reduction (DRR) is low. There is little activity with regard to direct community mobilization for Disaster Risk Management (DRM). For example, there is no designated leader for facilitating development of village-level DRM plans.
• Rising sea is level hurting the country’s tourism industry. The chronic coastal erosion has social and economic disruptions for the FSM people. Consequently, FSM is increasingly reliant on aid from the global community. Drinking water sources are not stable, and food availability is dependent on imports.
• Extreme sea-level events. Measuring sea levels among the Pacific islands — and trying to establish trends — is complicated by the effects of the weather systems known as El Niño and La Niña, according to climatologists. But beyond the threat of higher sea levels, the warming climate produces more extreme storms and more acidic water that bleaches coral reefs.
• Ocean acidification is projected to continue. The ability for coral-reef ecosystems to grow is weakening with rising temperatures. In addition, storms can cause reef damage, such as Typhoon Sudal in 2004, which hit Yap, resulting in structural damage to its reefs. Coral reefs form natural barriers protecting most islands in FSM. Without healthy coral reefs, low-lying atolls will have no protection from the Pacific Ocean. Chuuk Lagoon, one of the largest in the world, is densely populated, with the vast majority of people living along the immediate coastline. Warming temperatures and ocean acidification are expected by international researchers to have an effect on coral reefs in FSM, threatening the population’s food security.
For the full country profile, visit the FSM’s page on the Pacific Climate Change Portal.
FSM has assessed risk hazards including coastal erosion, rising sea level, storm surge, flood, tsunami, tropical cyclone, drought, earthquake, epidemic, and secondary impacts such as landslides. People living in these small island states are vulnerable to slow- and rapid-onset disasters related to climate change including rising sea levels, and shifting rainfall and storm patterns.
Typhoon Maysak tore through the islands of FSM in March 2015 causing four fatalities, damaging houses, crops, and public infrastructure, and causing millions of dollars in damage. Nearly 30,000, or almost one third of FSM’s population, was affected, and rebuilding efforts are still ongoing. The typhoon went on record as the most powerful pre-April tropical cyclone in the North-western Pacific Ocean. There was also a devastating impact on the agriculture system, with 90 percent of the banana, breadfruit, and taro crops destroyed in Chuuk and Yap states. According to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), a total of 29,000 people were directly affected by the storm, and damage throughout the FSM amounted to $8.5 million.
Leaders Commit to Strengthen Cooperation
In May this year, FSM leaders held the 22nd Micronesian Islands Forum and reaffirmed their commitment to establish closer ties and strengthen cooperation in areas of shared interests and challenges, including climate change, sustainability, invasive species, healthcare, energy and more.
Federated States of Micronesia’s response strategy addresses both the effects and sources of those climate-change phenomena that are most likely to have an adverse impact on the country. This national response strategy will rely on effect-oriented adaptation and source-oriented mitigation measures, and will give priority to measures that provide for both adaptation and mitigation outcomes at the same time.
FSM believes it must focus its limited resources on measures to improve environmental management, including implementation of both adaptation and mitigation measures. These include maximizing its potential contribution toward controlling global greenhouse-gas emissions by increasing the sink capacity of its coral reefs and coastal and upland forests.
FSM’s is encouraging its citizenry, through a combination of incentives and public-awareness and grassroots community programmes, to design and carry out local adaptation and mitigation measures.