Climate change impacts

Motu's research in this area aims to generate new knowledge about the potential impacts of climate change and variability on New Zealand’s environment, including our natural ecosystems and native species, and the impacts on the many productive activities which depend on the environment and enable continued growth and prosperity.

Motu is also conducting work under the Deep South National Science Challenge. The mission of this project is to enable New Zealanders to adapt, manage risk, and thrive in a changing climate. Suzi Kerr is the leader of the Impacts and Implication Programme, which is aiming to understand the potential impacts and implications of climate change for New Zealand to support planning and decision-making, and aid adaptation efforts.

This Impacts and Implications programme will build on an existing four-year project: Climate Changes Impacts and Implications for New Zealand. This project, funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, provides a starting point for this programme.

Our research focus

Motu’s current and recent focus includes looking at the impacts of climate change and adaptation to those impacts, in particular:

  • The science of how New Zealanders manage risk, adapt and thrive in a changing climate
  • A series of facilitated dialogues where scientists and stakeholders identify research questions relevant to important decisions in New Zealand society.

These dialogues will include:

  1. Climate risk, housing and insurance: How can insurance inform and ameliorate climate risk for coastal property?
  2. How can wastewater and storm-water infrastructure be most effectively adapted, or abandoned, in the face of gradual sea-level rise?
  3. Vulnerable communities and sea level rise: What techniques will be the most effective for identifying those at risk and their relative vulnerability? How do we build a shared understanding of the likely impacts of sea level rise, enable effective community engagement in co-designing their future, and build social resilience for transition? What are the roles of local and central government.
  4. How can we better manage increasingly frequent and severe droughts: Where are the vulnerable areas and land uses? What existing strategies could be used more intensively and what new approaches might be explored? Could drought insurance be improved? What is the role of storage and irrigation? Can we develop more drought resistant cultivars and land uses.
  5. Urban and freight transport infrastructure, floods and sea-level rise.

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