Science Media Centre

Science Media Centre


Sea level rise to impact on New Zealanders – report

Posted in Science Alert: Experts Respond

Flooding and erosion from rising sea levels are likely to significantly impact on New Zealanders in our lifetimes, warns the latest report from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

King tide on Tamaki Drive, Auckland, in February 2014.

King tide on Tamaki Drive, Auckland, in February 2014.

Commissioner Dr Jan Wright released the report titled Changing climate and rising seas: Understanding the science this afternoon, which lays out the science behind sea level rise and how its consequences will affect New Zealanders.

Drawing on modelling of future sea level rise, the document paints a grim picture of what lies ahead. It says that the sea level is ‘locked in’ to rise by about 30 centimetres by 2050, which is enough to intensify king tides, storm surges, flooding and coastal erosion across New Zealand.

The second report from the Commissioner, due next year, will show which towns and cities are most vulnerable and assess the risk to infrastructure in those areas.

You can listen to audio from the report launch below.

[note: first section of audio missing]

The Science Media Centre rounded up the following expert comments in response to the Commissioner’s report. Feel free to use these quotes in your reporting. If you would like assistance or more information, please contact the SMC (04 499 5476;

Prof Martin Manning, Climate Change Research Institute, Victoria University of Wellington, comments:

“Dr Wright’s very readable review of the scientific basis for estimating future sea level rise is setting out an extremely important issue for New Zealand. How do we plan for major changes to our coastline when the rate at which these will occur is still not clear?

“The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment report set 66% likely ranges of sea level rise up to 1 metre but these do not cover all of the next 100 years, or set a risk based framework for planning purposes. Furthermore several recent studies are showing that those estimates did not cover everything. A major ice sheet in the northeast of Greenland that was assumed to be stable is now known to be moving, and more detailed studies of the East Antarctic ice sheet are showing it is much more vulnerable to sea water intrusions.

Continue reading “Sea level rise to impact on New Zealanders – report

Latest Post From Each Category

Science Alert: Experts Respond

Brace for extreme weather – report – experts respond

Society needs to act now to build resilience to increasingly common extreme weather such as floods, droughts and heatwaves, says a new report. The report from the UK Royal Society, ‘Resilience to extreme weather’, outlines the current understanding of the future risk posed by extreme weather events and how policy makers can adapt to and […]

In the News

Royal Society medals honour 2014’s top researchers

Twelve outstanding New Zealand researchers have been awarded medals at the Royal Society of New Zealand 2014 Research Honours event, held in Wellington on last night. The Rutherford Medal, the top medal awarded by the Royal Society of New Zealand, was presented to Distinguished Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger of Massey University for his world-leading contribution to […]


SMC BRIEFING: Unmanned flight – pushing the limits

Consumer-grade and custom-designed drones and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have exploded onto the market in recent years, opening up a surprising range of potential applications, but also raising concerns that the speed of technology development is outstripping current safety rules.   A new briefing from the SMC brings together several experts to explore the range of […]

Reflections On Science

Prof Ian Shaw on dangerous dust

Writing in the Press, University of Canterbury toxicology Professor Ian Shaw outlines the risk associated with dust thrown up by the ongoing rebuild in Christchurch. An excerpt (read in full here): As we reshape our city and demolish a large number of buildings in the process we are creating a gritty, dusty environment that is […]

Copyright 2014 Science Media Centre (New Zealand)

Disclaimer | Privacy Policy