Thursday, November 27, 2014

Climate change: Rising seas

One of the primary consequences of climate change is sea-level rise due to thermal expansion and melting ice. What impact will this have on New Zealand? The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment is going to tell us:

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright, has warned that flooding and erosion from rising sea levels will have a large impact on many New Zealanders in their lifetimes.

Today the Commissioner released a report that explains the science of sea level rise, one of the major consequences of climate change. A second report, due next year, will show which towns and cities are most vulnerable. It will also assess the risk to roads, buildings, stormwater systems and other infrastructure in those areas.

Its the second report which will really be interesting here, but this is a good start. And it gives us an idea of what to expect: 30 centimetres by mid-century, and a metre by 2100. And that is going to mean some big, and disruptive changes. Just around Wellington, that 30cm by 2050 is going to mean that the Hutt Road, the Hutt-Wellington railway line, Petone and Eastbourne will become increasingly vulnerable to storms (and Eastbourne already loses houses this way); a metre may make those transport links untenable without major engineering work. And of course there will be the impacts on coastal property - some owners of which resolutely have their fingers in their ears and are trying to gag councils to enable them to dump their junk on suckers preserve the "value" of their "assets". Adapting to this is going to cost a lot of money - money we wouldn't have to spend if we, and the world, had acted sooner.

The full report can be read here.