“Yesterday morning we woke up to a scene of so much devastation, it was just unbelievable. Cyclone Heta was just so fast, furious and ruthless.”
— Cecelia Talagi, Government Secretary
Niue is another Pacific Ocean island nation. In 2003, cyclone Heta hit the small island leaving around 200 of its inhabitants homeless. This cyclone also killed one person, a mother, leaving her young baby alone in their collapsed home to be rescued after the cyclone.
Niue is known for its coastal ecosystems, having a vast coral reef that can be admired in diving expeditions. Rising sea levels, as well as longer dry seasons, affect not only this marine ecosystem but all the biodiversity of the island. During the wet season, cyclones (hurricanes that occur in the South Pacific) get stronger from the intense difference with the dry season along with the warmer waters in the Pacific.
The phenomenon El Niño has brought stronger thunderstorms and rainfalls on the Pacific island. The air is rising over warmer oceanic waters which creates stronger storm winds, making the possibility of new and stronger cyclones to increase. Also, their oceans have become more acidic with the saltwater absorption of carbon dioxide. With warmer and more acidic waters, their coral reefs have greatly suffered and the marine ecosystem that drives their economy and protects their coast is dying. Climate change models show that carbon dioxide absorption is going to increase in the upcoming years, forcing the small island of Niue to have to create a plan that will protect their coral and biodiversity.