Sea level rise – How much?

Sea-level rise is coming, and planning for it is already underway, but coastal development across New Zealand relies on sea-level rise projections that are increasingly out-of-step with the latest science. 

Determining how councils and governments should plan for future sea level rise will be the focus of a conference in Wellington this week.

Councils around New Zealand vary greatly in terms of their official estimates of future sea level rise, which are used in property development and coastal planning, and  this week the Ministry for the Environment confirmed to the SMC that it had abandoned plans for National Environmental Standard to get all the councils’ sea level projections in line.

So what are the most up-to-date estimates that New Zealand should be working with?

The Science Media Centre hosted an online briefing for journalists on the science of sea-level rise, featuring keynote speakers from the New Zealand Climate Change Centre’s conference which will take place this Thursday, which will bring local and central government officials together to hear the latest science and discuss planning for sea-level rise. You can listen to the briefing below.


Registered journalists can access speakers slides in the SMC Resource Library.

Briefing Participants:
Dr John Church is CSIRO Fellow and an oceanographer with the Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research. He is a leading authority on the role of the ocean in climate change, and a lead author of the Sea level chapter of the next IPCC Assessment Report (AR5).

Prof Bruce Glavovic holds the Earthquake Commission (EQC) Chair in Natural Hazards Planning at Massey University and is Associate Director of the Joint Centre for Disaster Research. His research focuses on building sustainable, hazard-resilient communities.

Doug Ramsay is Manager of NIWA’s Pacific activities and a coastal hazard consultant. He has wide experience in both New Zealand and Pacific region, including projects in Tuvalu, Tonga, Tokelau, Micronesia, Kiribati, Cook Islands and Fiji. With Rob Bell he rewrote the Ministry for the Environment’s 2008 Coastal Hazards and Climate Change: A Guidance Manual for Local Government in New Zealand.