New website shows Kiwis whether their home is at risk from sea level rises after startling new predictions

  • 02/05/2022

Scientists have released a new website which allows Kiwis to check whether their home is at risk from sea level rises. 

It comes after shocking new climate research pinpointed the places in New Zealand where sea level rise will greatly outpace the global prediction of 30cm by 2060 which is based on achieving the Paris climate agreement. 

For parts of our two biggest cities, Auckland and Wellington, 30cm of sea level rise isn't 40-50 years away, but just 10-20. That is because New Zealand sits on two tectonic plates.

By 2060, it's approaching a metre and that will cause dramatic inundation, untold damage and ultimately force people to abandon their homes and businesses and retreat from the coast. 

The study's lead scientists, Richard Levy and Tim Naish, have created a website so precise people can find out how their own neighbourhood will be affected, which will surely put the issue in the front of people's minds where it deserves to be.

Speaking with AM on Monday, Naish said unfortunately much of the increases are baked in and inevitable.

"We provide the usual caveats and explanations about uncertainty but for the next 30 to 40 years until mid century. But we are fairly confident the errors are very low and that's mostly because all of the sea level rises are already baked in - we are already committed to it.

"We are guaranteed to get 30cm by 2060 regardless of our emissions, beyond that it really does matter what we do with our emissions globally."

Ōwhiro Bay in Wellington is one of the thousands of locations around New Zealand that today have new sea-level rise predictions to come to terms with and the magnitude has stunned even the scientists working on them.

"I was shocked. I mean I knew it was bad, I knew we were getting sea level rise, we know that, I've been a climate scientist for 20 years, but I was shocked at how quickly it can happen," Naish told Newshub. 

"As we were going through it the surprises just kept coming," Levy added. 

While Kiwis have all been getting on with their busy daily lives, the changes have been occurring and in climate change terms, it's happening at light-speed. 

"Like most people, I thought we had more time. We don't, we literally have a decade or two before in places like this we're gonna be at decision points about whether you look at some sort of managed retreat," Naish told Newshub.

The new website can be found here