Find out more about some of our coasts and estuaries-related work.

Observations of a Pacific atoll mangrove forest by a NIWA-led research team suggests mangrove systems on oceanic atolls may lose the race to keep pace with sea-level rise.
Traits are defined as the components of organisms that can be measured and have an effect on ecosystem functioning. Examples of traits include the behaviour, life history, morphology, and physiology characteristics
Fine sediment is the most pervasive and significant contaminant in New Zealand’s rivers, estuaries, and coastal areas.
The Ross Sea Region Research and Monitoring Programme (Ross-RAMP) is a five-year research programme funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and run by NIWA to evaluate the effectiveness of the Ross Sea Marine Protected Area.
NIWA hosted an IPBES workshop entitled “Visions for nature and nature’s contributions to people for the 21st century” held from 4-8 September 2017 in Auckland.

NIWA is developing guidelines and advice to help coastal communities adapt to climate change.

The main breeding population of New Zealand sea lions at the Auckland Islands has halved in size since the late-1990s; NIWA scientists are working with the government and experts from around New Zealand and overseas to understand why.

A NIWA-led project to tackle coastal acidification in New Zealand.
Estuaries and coasts provide a wide range of benefits to New Zealanders – “ecosystem services”. However, we still don’t know enough about these ecosystem services – a challenge NIWA and other scientists are tackling with a new technique.
We know that waves cleanse estuaries of silts and clays, keeping intertidal flats sandy and healthy. But how big do waves have to be to be effective in this way? New research shows that very small waves can be just as effective as big waves.
An experiment in Henderson Creek, Auckland, has demonstrated how tidal creeks variously import, export and deposit sediment, depending on the wind and freshwater runoff, and modulated by the tide.
Mangrove forests, which are important parts of estuarine ecosystems in a number of ways, are sensitive to changing sea level.
The seaweed known colloquially as nori in Japanese - used for making sushi - or karengo in Maori has been reclassified by an international team of scientists including NIWA's Dr Wendy Nelson.
River plumes form one of the primary connectors between river-estuary systems and the coastal ocean.

Understanding how material released into the ocean spreads is very important in the case of oil spills, sediment transport and the release of invasive species. 

NIWA is working on a ministry-funded project to produce a model, validated by 40 years of historic data, to project future wave and storm surges off the coast for two climate change scenarios.
Changes to the local environment and over harvesting have damaged shellfish populations in many estuaries. These projects examine the most effective way to restore these habitats and allow healthy populations of shellfish to return.
Seagrass beds form an important undersea habitat for small fish, seahorses and shellfish in New Zealand.
NIWA has developed an Urban Stormwater Contaminant (USC) model to enable urban planners to predict sedimentation and heavy metal accumulation in estuaries and identify problem areas in order to target mitigation measures.
Contamination of shellfish by faecal microbes is a health hazard to the consumer and so is of particular concern to the commercial producer.