Climate change

Climate change effects are accelerating, driving the need for actions informed by sound climate knowledge.

Climate change

NIWA is committed to providing the science needed to adapt to and mitigate climate change. By making informed choices now, we can reduce risks, maximise opportunities, foster climate resilience and work towards a carbon-neutral economy.

“The challenges of reducing our national greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to a changing climate are hugely important and affect all New Zealanders. The Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill provides the framework for responding to these challenges. NIWA’s role – providing research for evidence-based decision-making and science-based solutions to reduce emissions and adapt to our changing climate – is now more important than ever.”

Dr Andrew Tait, Chief Scientist, Climate, Atmosphere and Hazards

The latest climate change facts you need to know:

Latest news

New Zealand has just experienced its hottest November on record, according to NIWA climate scientists.
Novel handwriting recognition project casts new light on historic weather data.
Expect to hear a lot more about climate change in the news in the weeks ahead – and a lot about NIWA’s work underpinning the science that is signalling a warmer world right now and its effects in the future.
Two reports released today by NIWA and the Deep South National Science Challenge reveal new information about how many New Zealanders, how many buildings and how much infrastructure could be affected by extreme river and coastal flooding from storms and sea-level rise.

Our work

Climate Present and Past is a core-funded project under NIWA's National Climate Centre. It aims to explore historical climate data and track past changes in climate through a range of approaches.
Last updated: 
26 November 2019
Regional-scale climate projections assist New Zealand’s local government authorities to adequately assess the local risks presented by climate change now and prepare their communities for the future impacts of climate change.
RiskScape, a joint venture between NIWA and GNS Science, is a tool for analysing potential economic and social impacts from multiple natural hazards.
While we know that glaciers are sensitive to changes in their local climate, our understanding of exactly how mountain glaciers will respond to climate change is incomplete.

Latest videos

Our Climate is Changing

Our climate is changing - we need to act now.

Glaciers Don't Lie

If you think New Zealand's Southern Alps are shielded from climate change – take a look at this. "You can't make a glacier lie.”

Ocean acidification - what is it?

The on-going rise of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere is not only changing our climate—it is also changing our oceans. Take a look at the work of the NIWA-led CARIM project into what these changes may mean for the delicate balance of marine life.

Meteorological forecasting centres across the Pacific are predicting near average or slightly above average numbers of tropical cyclones for the 2012–13 season (November 2012 to April 2013). On average[1], 10 named tropical cyclones occur in the southwest Pacific (between 135°E and 120°W) each season (November to April). The outlook indicates that 9 to 12 named cyclones are expected for the 2012 – 2013 season. Tropical cyclone activity east of the International Dateline is expected to be normal, with above normal activity for Niue and Tonga during the second half of the season.

Scientists have discovered an abrupt increase in the uptake of atmospheric carbon dioxide by the land biosphere since1988. Without this natural increase in uptake, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would probably have increased even more rapidly over the last two decades.

A New Zealand first! A multi-disciplinary team of scientists, planners and engineers has created a first-of-its-kind, innovative, custom-made "toolbox" for New Zealand city, district and regional councils to assess the impacts of climate change on
urban infrastructure.

The sea is creeping up on us, with storm surge flooding starting to occur more frequently on king tides. It is of growing concern. This is the first sign we will notice, rather than the slow but sure rise in sea-level. Sixty-five percent of Kiwis live within 5 km of the sea, and this includes twelve of our fifteen largest towns and cities. Because of our nation's preference for coastal living, we need to really consider what rising sea-levels mean for us, especially for higher tides.

Antarctic Climate Change

NIWA climate scientist Dr James Renwick explains what changes are occurring in the Antarctic in response to climate change and what's likely to happen in the future.

Climate Change and the Microbial Loop

NIWA biological oceanographer Dr Julie Hall explains how increased sea temperatures are predicted to increase stratification of the ocean, creating a disconnect between the surface waters and deep ocean.

The Microbial Loop

The microbial loop refers to the small microscopic organisms in the ocean – viruses, bacteria, the small phytoplankton and microzooplankton – and the relationships between them.

Sea Ice and Climate Change

Dr Mike Williams, physical oceanographer at NIWA, explains the importance of Antarctic sea ice in the Earth's ocean and climate systems and how they may be affected by climate change.

Climate Change and Deepsea Life

Dr Dave Bowden outlines concerns over the impacts of climate change on deepsea life in Antarctic waters.

Phytoplankton and Climate Change

NIWA biological oceanographer Dr Philip Boyd explains how the Southern Ocean plays a key role in controlling the world's climate, by drawing large amounts of CO2 from Earth's atmosphere into the ocean depths.

Is ocean iron addition part of the solution to climate change? Cliff Law, NIWA explains: 

A decision framework has been developed that provides for a balanced and justifiable prioritisation of sustainable adaptations to climate change and which is flexible to change.
A range of links, contacts and supplementary material.

This toolbox is a resource to help planners, engineers, asset managers, and hazard analysts in New Zealand urban councils understand and evaluate the potential impacts of climate change in their city.

NIWA Oceanographer Dr Craig Stevens has returned, with stunning images and data, from a successful month-long research trip in Antarctica, where he led a team of international and New Zealand scientists.

NIWA’s weather prediction model simulated the intense rainfall which fell just north of the capital, and flooded parts of Porirua, on Sunday 27 March. Thirty nine millimetres of rain fell in less than an hour, around 1.00pm.

More than 30 international experts in climate science will meet in Queenstown this week to discuss implementing a new a state-of-the-art global network to improve the quality of measurements of upper air climate variables.

Over the past decade, predicting the weather, and understanding the changes in climate, has emerged as one of the most important and topical areas of scientific endeavour.

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All staff working on this subject

Principal Scientist - Coastal and Estuarine Physical Processes
Principal Scientist - Climate
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Marine Biogeochemistry Technician
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Coastal and Estuarine Physical Processes Scientist
Principal Scientist - Atmosphere
Principal Scientist-Marine Biogeochemistry
Principal Scientist - Climate and Environmental Applications
Emeritus Researcher – Atmospheric Radiation
Principal Scientist - Atmosphere and Climate
Principal Scientist - Climate
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Marine Physics Modeller
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Freshwater Fisheries Ecologist
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Physical Oceanographer
Principal Scientist - Coastal and Estuarine Physical Processes
Chief Scientist - Climate, Atmosphere and Hazards
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Marine Biologist (Biosecurity)
Atmospheric Scientist
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Freshwater Fish Ecologist
Environmental Economist
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