Climate Change

The world’s climate has undergone many changes over millions of years and will continue to do so for millions of years into the future. Since about 1850, industrialisation and human modification of the environment have increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, particularly carbon dioxide and methane. As greenhouse gases increase, the amount of heat they trap in the atmosphere also increases, and since ~1850 mean global temperature has increased nearly 1C. Forecasts by the International Panel on Climate Change, based on projected human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, and using best available scientific data, are for temperature increases and changes in climate patterns that will have major impacts on ecosystems and society. There is growing concern that changes may be abrupt, providing little time for human adaption.

Although people have come to think of climate change as synonymous with global warming, modelling predicts that some areas may actually become colder as others become warmer. Indeed, if such changes occur some regions may actually benefit climatically, however, there may be a range of undesirable effects in other areas, including changes in the frequency, location and intensity of many natural hazards, such as heavy rainfall, drought, high winds and other storm events. Additionally, if land ice, such as the ice in Antarctica were to melt, we may see a significant rise in sea levels. At this point we are not sure what the rise in sea level might be or over what period of time this rise in sea level would occur as different models offer different results. Whatever the outcome of climate change it is still prudent to prepare for a possible increase in climate-related hazards.

How Natural Hazards New Zealand can help:

Any climate hazard preparedness plan first begins with an assessment of the hazard and risk your region faces to existing climate hazards. For this, Natural Hazards New Zealand can undertake hazard vulnerability studies; damage and loss assessment modelling; and economic impact studies. When your region’s climate hazard and risk has been assessed, we at the Natural Hazards New Zealand (NHNZ) cluster know that good emergency response planning; land-use planning/engineering solutions; and community awareness can reduce any climate change impacts. As you will see from our climate hazard-related projects below, we’re already employed around the globe with this type of planning and preparedness, including several World Bank, Asia Development Bank, United Nations Development Programme, NZAid and AusAID-funded initiatives.

If your region does not have climate hazard plans in place, or your plans need upgrading, we would like to help.

Click here to view some NHNZ climate change projects

Natural Hazards Inc. members and their key experts with experience on climate change:

GNS Science

URS New Zealand Ltd