Research Project

Climate change: The cascade effect

Cascading impacts and implications for Aotearoa New Zealand

The impacts of increases in temperature, rainfall, sea levels and extreme events will cascade across all sectors of society. Our assets, communities and social and economic interactions will all be affected.

As the effects of these changes become more frequent through flooding, coastal inundation and drought, we’ll have less time to recover and there will be cumulative consequences. In addition, as different sectors respond to the changes, there is potential for impacts to compound through the economy.

The Deep South Challenge focused on four major climate-related impacts: extreme weather events, drought, changes in average weather patterns and sea level rise. The flow-on effects of these changes and their interactions raise many interrelated questions for decision makers and planners at all levels of decision making and across all sectors, such as:

  • How will sea level rise affect transport links regionally, coastal communities and the infrastructure on which they depend?
  • How will changes in seasonal temperatures affect fruit growers, their business, their access to ports and airports, and how will this in turn impact local and national economies?

The interconnected – or cascading – social and economic impacts were the focus of this research, which built on Climate Change Impacts and Implications (CCII) work completed in 2016. Working with local government, infrastructure and financial sectors, the research involved system scoping and impacts assessment, three stakeholder workshops across New Zealand, and the development and refinement of cascading impact maps. 

By understanding the cascading nature of the impacts of climate change, decision makers will be better able to plan, adapt and manage risks.

This project in the media: