Researchers highlight lessons from an emerging climate

Waitaki valley landscape

Public Talk: On the emergence of unusual, unfamiliar and unknown climates  – patterns of change and why it matters.

The concept of ‘Time of Emergence’ (ToE), which characterises when significant signals of climate change will emerge from existing variability, is a useful and increasingly common metric.  Professor Dave Frame and PhD candidate Luke Harrington from the New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute recently presented their latest findings at Victoria University. Professor Frame reflects on the essential messages.

What is the most important message that your current research is revealing?

For several years scientists have understood that climate change emerges above local climate variability at different rates in different places, emerging fastest in tropical regions and a lot more slowly in the storm tracks and polar regions. This pattern corresponds with a lot of important climate impacts, such as extreme hot periods, impacts on certain crops and so on. In the new research we’re starting to examine how robust these patterns are and what the patterns look like under different climate scenarios and in different models, factoring in issues such as population. At this stage it’s still a work in progress, but some pretty strong regularities are emerging.

What would you like decision makers to take away from this research?

The need to pay more attention to climate change on the timescales of decades, and to be aware of the speed of emerging climate change in the Pacific. Some of the largest changes in terms of shifts in the distribution of seasonal or annual temperatures are occurring between us and the equator. This affects not only New Zealand but also countries with whom we have close ties.

This work has been submitted for peer review and publication and we will report further in due course.

For more information email the New Zealand Climate Change Research Insitute

Professor Dave Frame
Luke Harrington
Luke Harrington