General Description of FSM

Cultural Importance of the Environment

Expected Climate Change Impacts

Possible Climate Change Adaptation Strategies

* Resources listed here help to describe some of the important environmental features of FSM

Plants and Animals

Ocean Resources


Weather and Climate

Fletcher, C.H. & Richmond, B.M. (2010). Climate change in the Federated States of Micronesia: Food and water security, climate risk management, and adaptive strategies. University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program. Retrieved from

Gombos, M., Atkinson, S., & Wongbusarakum, S. (2010). Adapting to a changing climate. Micronesia Conservation Trust and the Nature Conservancy. Retrieved from

Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environmental Programme. (2010, November 3). Pacific Environment Information Network [PEIN] Country Profile and Virtual Environment Library: Federated States of Micronesia. SPREP Library & Information Resource Centre. Retrieved from

Description of Each State

Kosrae State

The island of Kosrae is the easternmost island in the Federated States of Micronesia. Kosrae is a 112 km2 volcanic island surrounded by mangroves and coastal strand forests that have been historically used for lumber and fuel by residents. There is a shallow fringing reef spotted with boulders of limestone quarried from the fore-reef by high-energy wave events (storms, tsunamis, and other overwash processes). There are no outer islands. The island has steep, heavily vegetated watershed with unstable slopes. Intense rainfall denudes exposed soil in areas of deforestation. Invasive vegetation is prolific and has taken a foothold in every watershed. The population of approximately 8,247 is largely dependent upon fishing and farming for their livelihood.

Kosrae has unique needs with regard to climate risk management and adaptation. The majority of the coastline is experiencing chronic erosion, in places related to engineering projects that have caused down-drift sediment deficiencies over the past four decades. Additional causes of erosion include offshore mining of the reef flat for construction materials, beach mining for sand and gravel resources, and interruptions to alongshore sediment transport by engineering projects; in some areas erosion is occurring for reasons that are not entirely known but are probably, in part, related to sea-level rise. The widespread "telescoping" of erosion along the coast by armoring, and beach loss in front of seawalls and revetments, has produced a chronic deficiency in sand that formerly constituted beautiful beaches ringing the island. These beaches lent protection to coastal communities, ambience to tourism and a quality of life to residents that is at risk.

The maximum overwash elevation of the recent tide surges is likely to be reached in future events with greater frequency. Generally, designing structures such that overwash may run beneath the structure increases community resilience. Buildings with their lowest horizontal structural component set above the maximum elevation of the December 2008 overwash plus 1 meter will be less prone to damage and more resilience to recovery. The maximum overwash elevation, plus 1 meter, represents a base flood elevation (BFE) for new construction and for renovation of existing buildings.

Pohnpei State

Pohnpei is a "high" volcanic island, having a rugged, mountainious interior with some peaks as high as 760 meters. It measures about 130 kilometers in circumference and is roughly circular in shape. Pohnpei Island is the largest, highest, most populated, and most developed island in FSM. A coral reef surrounds the island, forming a protected lagoon. There are no beaches in Pohnpei -- the coast is surrouned by mangrove swamps growing on muddy substrate eroded from interior wetlands in the rainy environment. Several smaller islets, many of them inhabited, lie nearby within the lagoon-reef complex. The population of Pohnpei is approximately 34,840. Pohnpei is more ethnically diverse than any other island in the FSM. This is largely due to it being home to the capitol of the national government, which employs hundreds of people from the other FSM States having distinct ethnic and cultural origins. The indigenous makeup also includes people from the outer islands within the state, which comprise of multiple regional ethnicities. Outer islands in Pohnpei include Pingelap, Mokil, Ant, Pakin, Ngtik, Nukuoro, and Kapingamarangi. These are atoll islets that suffered extreme hardship during the marine inundations events of 2007 and 2008.

Pohnpei's climate is tropical and humid. Kolonia town receives about 4.95 meters of rain annually. Typhoons rarely hit Pohnpei; more often they are spawned in Micronesia and move on to Guam and the commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Every several years or so (on average), a mildly damaging tropical storm or depression will affect Pohnpei. Strong El Nino events can cause prolonged drought of many weeks or even months, as was seen in 1997-1998. Torrential rainstorms can also strike Pohnpei. These rainstorms have caused serious landslides and mud slides in the past and represent a natural hazard that may worsen was changes to the water cycle occur with continued global warming.

The tidal surges of 2007 and 2008 caused significant damage to coastal infrastructure in low-lying areas. Without a specific plan to manage coastal problems, Pohnpei shoreline areas will lack a degree of resiliency, resources will be exposed to depletion, and improvements through investment may be outpaced by the scale of climate change unless a specific plan is developed.

Chuuk State

The main population center of Chuuk State is the Chuuk Lagoon, an archipelago with mountainous islands surrounded by a string of islands on a barrier reef. The two major geographical divisions of the Chuuk Lagoon are Faichuuk, the western islands, and Namoneas, the eastern islands. On July 2, 2002, heavy rains from Tropical Storm Chataan caused more than 30 landslides that killed 47 people and injured dozens of others in the state's deadliest weather disaster. The landslides occurred throughout the day, some within just minutes of one another. Most of the roads and transportation systems are poor or in disrepair. Potholes in the coastal road of the business district of Chuuk are often filled with either saltwater at high tide or runoff that cannot drain due to the low elevation. Drinking water is unpotable.

Chuuk State, population 53,106, also includes several additional sparsely populated outer island groups, including the Mortlock Islands to the southeast, the Hall Islands (Pafeng) to the north, Namonuito Atoll to the northwest, and the Pattiw region to the west. The Pattiw region is of particular interest in that it contains some of the most traditional islands in the Pacific, which are culturally related to the outer islands of Yap. The Pattiw Region includes the islands of Pollap, Tamatam, Poluwat, and Houk.

The tidal surges of 2007 and 2008 caused significant damage to coastal infrastructure, food resources, and housing. It is apparent that investment in Chuuk already scheduled to refurbish the main road and buried infrastructure is committed and planned for immediate ground breaking. Unfortunately, the pace of climate change has already made some design elements of these large infrastructure projects out of date. Adding to the elevation of the main road in Chuuk would likely permit avoidance of significant drainage problems related to sea-level rise for a period of years to decades depending on the amount of adjustment. The addition of 0.5 meters to the roadbed, and incorporation of enhanced drainage features, will likely pay dividends in flooding avoidance for a few decades.

Yap State

Yap's indigenous cultures and traditions are still strong compared to neighboring regions. the main district of yap consists of four islands with geology that is non-vocanic in origin. The four are very close togther and joined within a common coral reef and entirely formed from uplift of the Philippine Plate. The land is mostly rolling hills densely covered with vegetation. Mangrove swamps line much of the shore although beaches are common in some areas. An outer barrier reef and lagoon surround the islands and their fringing reef.

Colonia is the capital of Yap State. It administers both Yap proper and 14 atolls reaching to the east and south for some 800 kilometers, namely Eauripik, Elato, Fais, Faraulep, Gaferut, Ifalik, Lamotrek, Ngulu, Olimirao, Piagailoe (West Fayu), Pikelot, Sorol, Ulithi, and Woleai atolls, as well as the island of Satawa. The 2009 statewide population was 11,780. The state has a total land area of 102 km2.

The tidal surges of 2007 and 2009 caused significant damage to coastal infrastructure, food resources, and housing. Yap is well developed and has a general high quality of life. Nonetheless, water on the main islands is non-potable and this is a major issue that has not been resolved despite several decades of effort. The central business district of Yap is built around a harbor, the shoreline of which is armored by well-designed and engineered walls and revetments. However, the top elevation of most of this coastal protection is only 30-60 centimeters above high tide. By mid-century or earlier, these protections will need upward extension to protect the critical roads, fuel depots, buildings, and freight handling facilities lining the harbor. Over the next decade, climate risk management can focus on building a community-based adaptation program to improve clime risk management.