Climate: The study found that sea levels in New Zealand are rising faster than expected

Climate: The study found that sea levels in New Zealand are rising faster than expected

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According to findings published Monday, May 2 from an extensive research program, sea levels are rising twice as fast as expected in New Zealand.

A study released Monday showed that sea levels are rising twice as fast as expected in parts of New Zealand, threatening the country’s two largest cities.

Data collected along the country’s coastal strip showed that some areas are already sinking by three to four millimeters a year, accelerating the alarming danger. These projections are the result of an intensive five-year research program – dubbed NZ SeaRise – carried out by dozens of national and international scientists and funded by the government.

According to their forecasts, the authorities have less time than expected to plan how to adapt to the consequences of climate change, in particular to resettle the population living along the coasts. According to Tim Naish, a professor at the University of Wellington in Victoria who co-manages the programme, if global sea level rises by about half a meter by 2100, that rise should reach almost one meter in large parts of the archipelago because the land is sinking at the same time. .

This would be particularly disastrous for the capital, Wellington, which could see a sea level rise of 30 cm by 2040, which was not expected before 2060. Thus, every year Wellingtonians could be victims of damaging floods. “We have less time to work, it’s a little intimidating,” said Tim Naish.

Data shows that the North Island’s most populous southeast coast is the most exposed. With a population of 1.7 million, the largest city in the country, Auckland is particularly vulnerable. Sea levels are expected to rise 50% faster on the downtown waterfront and in many suburbs, which will have huge impacts on home prices and insurance premiums.

online tool

NZ SeaRise has developed an online tool for residents and authorities to check the forecasts for their area, so they can assess flood and erosion risks. “We still have time, but we no longer have time to sit idly by,” said Tim Naish, calling on elected officials and promoters to stop thinking about how best to adapt to this rising sea.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said planning was already under way, including preparing the budget to move some residents and infrastructure away from vulnerable beaches. “The first thing is not to abdicate because there are a series of options that can be implemented,” she told Radio New Zealand. “We are working with local authorities and insurers to determine who should bear the costs of some of these options because it should not be the responsibility of one single party.”

Jacinda Ardern has called on New Zealanders to do everything they can to reduce emissions and limit the consequences of climate change. The rise in sea level is due to the thermal expansion of the oceans — water expands when it warms — and the melting of glaciers in the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica.

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