The Team

NZ SeaRise brings together 30 local and international experts to improve predictions of sea level rise in New Zealand. Our data will be incorporated into the next Ministry for the Environment report on coastal hazards and climate change. From 2021, we will share detailed maps and models, based on different global sea level rise scenarios. This will provide more accurate and reliable information, crucial for council and government planners and freely available to the public.

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Global sea level rise

The climate is changing and the world is warming. The oceans have taken up most of the additional heat so far, and as the water warms up, it expands. In combination with water from the melting of land-based ice, this causes rising sea levels. On average, global sea level rose about 19 cm between 1901 and 2010 (compared to sea level during 1985-2008), at an average rate of 1.7 mm per year. But this process is accelerating. From 1993 to 2016, global sea level rose at an average rate of about 3.4 mm per year. Climate trends and gravitational effects differ for each region and the seas don’t rise uniformly across the globe.

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New Zealand sea level rise

The sea around New Zealand rose, on average, by 1.7 mm per year from 1900 to 2008. But at the same time, the land is going up in some places and down in others. We are putting both of these changes together to accurately predict total sea level rise at a local scale.

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Community impacts

Rising seas have local impacts. This includes flooding, rising groundwater levels, coastal erosion, and salinization of wetlands and aquifers. We are working with partners – regional councils, iwi and government agencies – to look at specific local impacts of projected sea level rise.