Funding announced for climate resilience research

Washed out railway tracks in Wellington

The latest funding has been announced by the Deep South National Science Challenge to enable New Zealanders to adapt, manage risk, and thrive in a changing climate. (Photo credit: David Morgan)

Working out which roads, buildings and railway lines across New Zealand could be affected by flooding due to climate change, is the subject of a new research project being funded by the Deep South National Science Challenge.

The Challenge, which is tasked with enabling New Zealanders to adapt, manage risk and thrive in a changing climate, has announced funding for four new projects totalling more than $1 million.

Ryan Paulik, hazards analyst at the National Institute of Water and Atmosphere (NIWA) is leading one of the projects to identify how flooding due to sea level rise or extreme weather events will affect infrastructure and buildings. Mr Paulik says flooding caused by rainfall is one of New Zealand’s most frequently damaging and disruptive natural hazards and is expected to increase under climate change scenarios.

However, there is little information available to central and local government on exactly what is at risk under different climate change scenarios. Information was urgently needed to help identify high risk areas and prioritise mitigation work.

Scientific models will be produced across New Zealand for practitioners to identify how flood risk may evolve in their area using RiskScape software developed by NIWA and GNS Science.

The Deep South Challenge is also funding other research to support its mission. In a project led by Waikato University it will look at reshaping the future of risk management in New Zealand. NIWA and Auckland University will collaborate in oceanographic research from RV Tangaroa in the Ross Sea. The final successfully- funded project will be undertaken by Massey University and will look into risk management planning for climate change impacts on Māori coastal ecosystems and economies.  This will complement their previous Challenge funded research looking into adaptation strategies to address climate change impacts for coastal Maori communities.

Newly funded projects:

Understanding how climate change might affect New Zealanders

Challenge director Dr Mike Williams said the new projects would expand the reach of the Challenge and provide crucial information to help New Zealand in the face of climate change.

“The new research projects that the Challenge has funded will help us understand how climate change might affect New Zealanders, for example, by knowing more about what is at risk from increased flooding and sea level rise.”

Each of the four projects will receive between $200,000 and $300,000.

Central to the Challenge is strengthening the links and interactions with the New Zealand Earth System Model. This world-class numerical model will simulate current climate and make projections of future climates with different scenarios of future global greenhouse gas emissions.

Ultimately the Deep South Challenge will help advance understanding of Southern Hemisphere influences on the global climate and give New Zealanders a greater level of certainty in the face of a changing climate.

“We are particularly looking forward to seeing these projects under way as they will help us set future priorities at a local level,” Dr Williams said.

The Deep South National Science Challenge is one of 11 Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment-funded initiatives aimed at taking a more strategic and collaborative approach to science investment.

For more information:

Dr Mike Williams - Director, Deep South National Science Challenge

Ph 04 386 0389 Mobile: 021 044 7645