Climate Change Overview

Country Summary

This page presents high-level information for Kiribati's climate zones and its seasonal cycle for mean temperature and precipitation for the latest climatology, 1991-2020. Climate zone classifications are derived from the Köppen-Geiger climate classification system, which divides climates into five main climate groups divided based on seasonal precipitation and temperature patterns. The five main groups are A (tropical), B (dry), C (temperate), D (continental), and E (polar). All climates except for those in the E group are assigned a seasonal precipitation sub-group (second letter).  Climate classifications are identified by hovering your mouse over the legend. A narrative overview of Kiribati's country context and climate is provided following the visualizations.

Köppen-Geiger Climate Classification, 1991-2020
  • Af
  • Am
  • As/Aw
  • BWh
  • BWk
  • BSh
  • BSk
  • Csa
  • Csb
  • Csc
  • Cwa
  • Cwb
  • Cwc
  • Cfa
  • Cfb
  • Cfc
  • Dsa
  • Dsb
  • Dsc
  • Dsd
  • Dwa
  • Dwb
  • Dwc
  • Dwd
  • Dfa
  • Dfb
  • Dfc
  • Dfd
  • ET
  • EF

Kiribati is a nation of 32 coral atolls and one raised limestone island, located in the central Pacific Ocean. The country contains three major island groups: the Gilbert group in the west, the central Phoenix group, and the Line group in the east. These islands have a total land area of 811 square kilometers (km2), and occupy a vast economic exclusion zone of approximately 3.6 million square kilometers. Kiribati’s coral atolls are very low-lying, with a maximum elevation of 3 to 4 meters (m) above sea level. 

As an atoll country, Kiribati is almost entirely dependent upon imported food and fuel. Subsistence farming and fishing are the primary economic activities. Because of narrow islands, the entire population and most infrastructure is concentrated along the coast making it directly exposed to the impacts of climate change. Kiribati had an estimated population of 113,000 in 2020, of which over half lived on the island of South Tarawa, where the capital Tarawa is located. 

Kiribati is amongst the most vulnerable nations to climate change on Earth. As an extremely isolated and very low-lying island nation, Kiribati faces considerable risk from climate variability and sea-level rise. The potential risk of permanent inundation, and land and marine ecosystem degradation link climate change intrinsically with development.