For the South Pacific island nation of Tonga, the tsunami unleashed by Saturday's volcanic eruption laid bare some of the ways that climate change is threatening the islands' very existence.

By increasing temperatures and driving up sea levels, climate change will likely worsen disasters wrought by tsunamis, storm surges, and heat waves, experts say.

Acutely aware of this risk, Tonga has been a key voice representing climate-vulnerable nations, saying at the U.N. climate talks in November that global warming "beyond the 1.5 C threshold would spell absolute catastrophe for Tonga" and other Pacific Islands as they are subsumed by the sea.