The Republic of Kiribati, an atoll nation in the central Pacific Ocean, is existentially threatened by climate change. Since 2005, I have been working with Kiribati colleagues to understand the effects of climate change and to build local research and adaptive capacity.
In addition to assisting Kiribati in its own struggle against climate change, our interdisciplinary work aims to learn lessons from the experience of its people and its environment that can be applied in other developing nations. Due to Kiribati’s unique climate and history, the country is an ideal natural laboratory both for evaluating how coral reefs will respond to rising ocean temperatures and how developing nations will manage the difficult process of adapting to climate change.
This page provides access to our reports, publications, and presentations about Kiribati.
Reports, Publications, and Presentations
- Recorded seminar at UBC (2017) Living Islands: coping with sea-level rise in Kiribati and the Pacific Islands.
- Cannon SE and Donner SD (2016) Climate Variability and the resilience of low diversity coral communities to bleaching in the Gilbert Islands, Kiribati – Poster presented at the 13th International Coral Reef Symposium, 19-24 June 2016.
- Slideshow from 2016 Field Trip – An informal slideshow describing our recent coral reef monitoring campaign in Kiribati and the neighbouring Marshall Islands.
- Obura D et al. (2016) Phoenix Islands Protected Area climate change vulnerability assessment and management, Report to the New England Aquarium, Boston, USA – A ‘working document’ about the vulnerability of Kiribati’s central island chain and UNESCO World Heritage site to climate change and its research and management needs.
- Donner SD (2015) Legacy of migration in response to climate stress: learning from the Gilbert’s resettlement in the Solomon Islands Natural Resources Forum – Based on interviews conducted in the Solomon Islands, this study examined the experience of Kiribati people resettled during the 1950s for insight into the long-term cultural effects of future migration due to climate change.
- Donner SD (2015) Fantasy Island (with slideshow The Kiribati People Battle Sea-level Rise), Scientific American, March 1, 2015 – An accessible article about the gap between the science and the rhetoric surrounding sea-level rise and coral islands and the implications for the islands and their people.
- Carilli J et al. (2014) Equatorial Pacific coral geochemical records show recent weakening of the Walker Circulation, Paleooceanography – Reconstruction of climate variability and change in the central Pacific based on an 80-year old coral core we collected in Butaritari during a 2010 field trip.
- Donner SD and Webber S (2014) Obstacles to climate change adaptation decisions: a case study of sea-level rise and coastal protection measures in Kiribati, Sustainability Science – A detailed look at the real-world struggles of adapting to climate change that traces how scientific uncertainty, the trade-offs between different options, and the political and social context influence adaptation decisions on the ground.
- Donner SD (2012) Sea-level rise and the ongoing battle of Tarawa, EOS, Transactions of the American Geophysical Union – Using examples from Tarawa, this brief article reminds scientists to be careful in attributing erosion or flooding events to sea-level rise, as opposed to climate variability and direct shoreline manipulation.
- Carilli J et al. (2012) Historical temperature variability affects coral response to heat stress, PLoS One – Evidence from coral cores and tissue samples, collected across Kiribati’s northern Gilbert Islands in 2010, that corals exposed to more frequent ocean “heat waves” are more resilient to future heat stress.
- Donner SD (2012) Fieldtrip: Can Corals Survive Warming Water Temperatures? (slideshow), Scientific American, July 3, 2012 – An annotated slideshow depicting my 2012 field trip to monitor coral reefs across Kiribati’s northern Gilbert Islands, including images and stories from Tarawa, Abaiang, Marakei, and Butaritari Atolls.
- Manley S et al. (2011; unpublished) Diversity and distribution of algal symbionts (Symbiodinium spp.) in reef-building corals in the Gilbert Islands – Analysis of the algal symbiont population from different coral species in Tarawa and Abaiang atoll based on samples collected during a 2009 field trip.
- Donner SD et al. (2010) Recovery from the 2004 coral bleaching in the Gilbert Islands, Kiribati, Atoll Research Bulletin – Analysis of changes in the coral community over the four years following the bleaching event reveals resilience of low-diversity sites subjected to high human disturbance.
- Sanding SA et al. (2008) Baselines and degradation of coral reef community structure in the northern Line Islands, PLoS One – Detailed analysis of the coral reef reef communities across the northern Line Islands which includes the easternmost islands of Kiribati.
- Donner SD (2007) Coral reef benthic monitoring, Kiribati Adaptation Project, Workshop Report – Summary of coral reef monitoring and training work done via the Kiribati Adaptation Project supported by the World Bank.
See also Kiribati’s website on climate change.