Climate Change Issues for East Coast of New Zealand – May 15th, 201343.7S 172.8E
Climate change models for the East Coast of New Zealand predict less rain and warmer temperatures than at present in the decades to come. The rate of sea level rise, currently running at over 0.2mm per annum, is projected to increase significantly due to thermal expansion and polar ice melts. These incremental changes to our weather and to the marine environment are anticipated to be magnified by periodic extreme events.
The Banks Peninsula Zone (bottom edge) with its extensive coastline and dependence on surface water will most likely be significantly affected by climate change. Whilst overall rainfall is expected to decrease by about 10% it is predicted that there will be a higher occurrence of intense rainfall events resulting in the flooding of low-lying areas, and an increased risk of slips and road closures.
At the other end of the extreme events scale the likelihood of drought is expected to double. This will impact on water supply and primary industry, and increase the risk of fire. Strong winds, predominantly from the West, combined with higher temperatures and low humidity would be likely to exacerbate the fire risk further.
In addition, the predicted sea level rise caused by climate change will impact negatively on the coastal margins of the Zone. Estimates of the rise in mean sea levels vary between 50cm and 80cm by 2090. In this scenario, low lying areas will be affected by erosion and inundation, and at times of high tides and storm surges these incursions will be increased (click here for more information).