Wed, 26 Sep 07
Water security, natural ecosystems and coastal communities are the sectors most vulnerable to climate change in
These were the findings of the latest report from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a collaboration of over 2,500 climate change scientists and 130 governments.
National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) scientist Dr Jim Salinger says the report is the result of a comprehensive survey of the science since 2001 and is based on over 550 research studies of what is happening in
Salinger says sea levels are expected to rise by half a centimetre a year, and by the year 2080 the average temperature may have also increased by up to 3.5 degrees.
He says eastern
NIWA says changes already observed since 1950 include a warming in mean temperature for
Water security: A major problem
The IPCC report highlights water security as a major problem - in particular ongoing coastal development and population growth in areas such as Northland and
Many councils have identified areas sensitive to coastal hazards within the next 100 years but NIWA's Dr Dave Wratt says they have been repeatedly challenged by property developers, and individual homeowners with different interpretations of the risks.
"Some people try to emphasise it's all very uncertain, but there are many things that we do know. We know it's going to get warmer, the science is pretty adamant about the fact that we're going to get more heavy rainfall," he says.
The report also says while climate change may boost production in agriculture and forestry in western and southern areas due to a longer growing season, less frost, and increased rainfall, production is projected to decline by 2030 over parts of eastern
Risk of biodiversity loss
A southward shift in agricultural pests and diseases is also likely with
The report also highlights the risk of biodiversity loss including alpine areas and sub
Salinger says that while
Climate change is already impacting on some of
New Zealand MetService international manager Pene Lefale is one of the authors of the section on small islands. He says air and sea temperatures have increased by up to one degree in the past 100 years and the sea level rose more than three millimetres a year between 1950 and 2000.
Temperatures and sea levels are expected to continue to rise and there could be fewer but much stronger cyclones and rainfall patterns will change.
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