A coral atoll expert is calling on the Australian government to fund more research into rising sea levels to fully assess the threat to island nations.
The International Panel on Climate Change predicts that sea levels could rise between nine and 88 centimetres this century and some small island nations may disappear.
The University of Queensland's, Dr Marshall Weisler, says the more scientists learn about the coral islands, the better they'll be able to offer suggestions on how to slow down the effects of sea level rise.
"There's no long-term solution that says if the do these three things then people can stay on theese islands indefinitely. That's not going to happen. But what can happen is to figure out ways that people could live on these islands for longer periods of time. And that will buy more time to come up with, say, relocation solutions."
Dr Weisler says whole Pacific nations may need to abandon their homes within a generation and this will become a regional problem.