Climate Change’s Potential Effects on New Zealand44S 170.1E
Human activity is increasing the natural level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere causing Earth to warm up and the climate to change. The effects of a warming planet and disrupted climate pattern are already becoming evident.
In New Zealand likely climate change impacts include: higher temperatures, more in the North Island than the South, (but still likely to be less than the global average), rising sea levels, more frequent extreme weather events such as droughts (especially in the east of New Zealand) and floods, as well as a change in rainfall patterns – higher rainfall in the west and less in the east.
These changes will result in both positive and negative effects. For example: agricultural productivity is expected to increase in some areas but there is the risk of drought and spreading pests and diseases. Forests and vegetation may grow faster, but native ecosystems could be invaded by exotic species. Drier conditions in some areas are likely to be coupled with the risk of more frequent extreme events such as floods, droughts and storms.
Rising sea levels will increase the risk of erosion and saltwater intrusion, increasing the need for coastal protection. Also, snowlines and glaciers are expected to retreat and change water flows in major South Island rivers, such as those visible in this image, flowing down from the Southern Alps and glacial lakes (click here for more details).