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Possible effects of climate change on New Zealand

New Zealand’s entire economy and way of life are based on terrestrial and marine ecosystems that could be disrupted by climate change. If climate change continues at its current pace, or accelerates, just a few of the likely effects are:

  • more intense rain events and flooding, especially in west coast locations
  • more frequent droughts in east coast locations
  • increased spread of pests and diseases from sub-tropical climates
  • a rise in sea-level of about 50cm in the next 100 years

Heavy rainfall and floods are expected to become more common in some areas ...  ... while droughts will become more common in other areas.

For more information, go to the New Zealand government’s climate change website.

The extent of Arctic sea ice is predicted to shrink substantially.Globally, a few of the effects that have already been observed include:

  • Coral reefs are dying at an alarming rate
  • Arctic sea ice has thinned by 43% in the past 40 years, threatening polar bears and a wide range of marine flora and fauna – this great melt is continuing
  • Growing seasons in middle and high latitudes are getting longer
  • Ranges of some plants and animals are shifting towards the poles
  • Glaciers around the world are shrinking
  • Lakes high in the Himalayan mountains are filling rapidly and at risk of bursting, putting people in low-lying areas at risk
  • Ranges of some dangerous human diseases such as malaria are expanding.

More information can be found at the IPCC website – look for reports from Working Group II.

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