Climate change trends to be studied

Wednesday 3 October 2012, 9:43AM

Potential climate change trends over the next 90 years will be identified and examined in a new, multi-million dollar research project which aims to ‘climate proof’ New Zealand.

Led by NIWA and Landcare Research, the four-year, $7.2 million project brings together a strong research team with knowledge and modelling capabilities in climate, ecosystems, land and water use, economics and sociocultural research to address the environment sector investment plan priority of “stronger prediction and modelling systems”.

The programme will be based around five interrelated projects that will ultimately provide new climate change predictions and advancements in understanding their impacts.

The five projects:
- Update and improve regional-scale projections of climate trends and variability across New Zealand out to 2100 based on the latest global projections.
- Identify likely impacts, environmental pressure points, implications and potential policy and management implications for five important environments: Alpine and high-elevation native forest ecosystems; high-country and hill-country environments and land use; lowland environments and land use; coastal and estuarine ecosystems; ocean food chain.
- Identify interactions between climate change and other key drivers, and their cumulative impacts across New Zealand, by linking results from climate, biophysical, economic, demographic, land-use change and stakeholder models. This will include work on freshwater supply, quality and use.
- Develop collaborative learning processes that enhance our capacity to generate, translate, share and apply climate change knowledge with stakeholders.
- Synthesise the research, providing information to support coordinated, evidence-based decision- making and policy development by New Zealand organisations.

Team members are also drawn from AgResearch, Victoria University, Bodeker Scientific, Motu Economic Research, Plant & Food, Scion and the University of Waikato.

End users from government, business, iwi and communities will participate directly in the programme, while wider society will be targeted through direct engagement, social media technologies, annual workshops and webpages.

Co-leaders Dr Andrew Tait (NIWA) and Dr Daniel Rutledge (Landcare Research) say it’s an exciting project that will, for the first time in New Zealand, examine potential climate change impacts on New Zealand’s economy, environment and society in an integrated and coordinated fashion.

“We have assembled what we feel is an ’New Zealand best‘ research team. The project also includes a strong partnership with stakeholders and iwi who will participate interactively throughout the entire project. This includes both participating directly in research and helping translate, apply and use the knowledge effectively to help ‘climate proof’ New Zealand.”