Maldives experiences a consistently warm climate and has already experienced warming trends, with increases of 0.8°C between 1978 and 2018.
Future projections are clouded by the inability of current climate models to simulate changes over very small island states. However, warming under the highest emissions pathway is likely to be slightly less than the global average of 3.7°C by the 2090s, but still over 3°C.
Warming of this magnitude would push the combined temperature and humidity conditions in Maldives to levels which are dangerous for the human body over sustained periods. This highlights the very significant benefits to achieving lower global 21st century emissions pathways.
Low-lying atoll islands in Maldives face a very significant threat from rising sea-levels. Long-term inundation is possible, but subject to adaptation efforts and geomorphological processes. The economic and human impacts of wave flooding are likely to grow in significance and threaten the viability of livelihoods on many islands.
The dependence of the Maldives’ economy on tourism represents a major vulnerability. Without this income stream food imports and desalinization of water, both of which face their own climate risks, may become less viable. Tourism is likely to come under pressure from sea-level rise, temperature extremes, and changes to global tourism behaviour and preferences.
The natural ecosystems of Maldives, and most notably its coral reefs, are at great risk from climate change.
Adaptation and conservation efforts will be required but may be limited in their scope.
Climate change represents a major threat to ways of life on Maldives’ islands. Without careful management it is likely that its impacts will be felt most strongly by the poorest, most marginalised, and most remote communities.