There are fears rising seas caused by global warming could see a tiny island nation completely vanish off the face of the Earth.

Tuvalu in the South Pacific is just metres wide along much of its length, and its Prime Minister has said climate change threatens "the very core of our existence".

Its once fertile soil is becoming barren as it absorbs sea salt and underground water storage has been inundated by ocean water, meaning locals are reliant on rainwater.

Tuvalu's 11,000 residents could end up having to be re-housed elsewhere if the process isn't reversed along with up to another 340,000 people, according to news.com.au

The stark reminder of what is happening to the planet comes after a United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released last week.

United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres said the aim of keeping the overall temperature rise to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels was now "perilously close" to being broken and called the report a "code red for humanity".

Addressing the Pacific Island Forum meeting on August 6, Tuvalu's Prime Minister Kausea Natano said missing the 1.5C target would be "disastrous for the Pacific".

"There is no doubt that sea level rise continues to threaten the very core of our existence, of our statehood, our sovereignty, our people and our identity."

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It's not just Tuvalu which is under threat, as much of the Solomon Islands, the Marshall Islands and many others in the western Pacific barely rise above the water.

In the capital city Funafuti the airport is right near residential buildings and close to its two largest buildings, the nation's parliament and the Princess Margaret Hospital, which also have sea views.

Everyone has ocean views in the capital of a country built on three thin, meandering reef islands which barely manage to poke their heads above the Pacific on one side and Te Namo lagoon on the other.

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The UN report released last week only added to the worst fears of the people living in Tuvalu their country is living on borrowed time more and more of their precious land, whose highest point is 4.5m above sea level, will eventually be swallowed up by the sea.

The worry is if the world keeps spewing out carbon at the current rate sea levels could rise 77cm, compared to the 1995-2014 average, by 2100.

If the planet manages to reduce its emissions the figure could be as low as 38cm but Tuvalu and atolls like it remain under an ever-increasing threat.

Climate scientist Shayne McGregor of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, said the western tropical Pacific had already seen sea levels rise more than elsewhere due to strong episodes of the El Nino storms.

"The highest point above sea level in Tuvalu may be 4.6 metres but the general height from sea level is something like 1.2 metres which is very low and they don’t have a lot of defences," said Prof McGregor.

"With an additional 77 centimetres of sea level rise as well as the variability of these El Nino and La Nina events you could imagine most of Tuvalu will be underwater some years."

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