The study analysed time slices of shoreline position over the past 118 years at 29 islands in the Funafuti Atoll.
It found that while Funafuti experienced some of the highest rates of sea level rise totalling about 300mm over the past 60 years there has been a 7.3 percent increase in net island area over the past century.
That means some islands in the atoll lost land area while others gained.
Five Australia and New Zealand-based scientists, who carried out the study, say the Tuvalu data showed islands can persist on reefs even if the sea level rise is five millimetres a year.
But they say with sea levels projected to be double the current rate it is unclear whether islands will be able to survive.