FAQ

New Zealand is fortunate to have a lot of ocean with a lot of fish around it, but the population of different species can easily be damaged by over fishing. Scientific monitoring is important in order to make sure we don’t damage our valuable resource.

Contact the National Centre which covers the science you want to hear about. They are committed to public outreach, communicating science to people who can use it. Our scientists are busy, and often away on field work, but they make time to speak to many groups, such as professional societies, Rotary, Probus, rural women, schools and so on.

No. NIWA is not a regulatory body. We provide research and expert environmental science services for customers.

See who to contact in our media centre.

Yes, and it is a very serious problem. Find out about the international scientific consensus

No. NIWA is a Crown Research Institute(CRI), a Crown-owned company established to undertake scientific research and related activities. See Our Company for more details.

NIWA is developing an environmental forecasting service, EcoConnect, which provides subscribers with continually updated forecasts of weather-driven hazards such as flooding, suitable for port companies, regional councils, energy companies, and other customers.

NIWA are experts in environmental science. We have about 750 staff at 15 sites around New Zealand and in Perth, Australia. We conduct scientific research and provide applied science services. We work in environments from the bottom of the seafloor to the top of the atmosphere.

NIWA has diverse range of scientists and labs across New Zealand. Our national centres co-ordinate them to work on research and consulting projects, and are your doorway into our science. Each centre often collaborates with other scientific organisations within New Zealand and overseas.

2007 saw a surprise record low in summer sea ice in the arctic, much sooner than anyone was expecting.

See this page in our National Climate Centre.

A lot of different customers, including central and local government. See our partners and funders for more information.

General

The example used here is for Murawai Beach, 11km north of Anawhata.

This is a common question. The Metservice tide forecast is based on LINZ tide forecast, which uses known tide times at standard ports and then applies an offset for 'secondary ports' - for example, Muriwai Beach. These offset values are often approximate.

The NIWA tide forecast is predicted by a purpose built tide model designed to calculate the tide at any location of open coast (not harbours) around New Zealand. The NIWA tide model has a stated accuracy of +/- 10 mins.

Atmosphere

The mass of carbon emissions can easily be calculated.
You might think that because all the carbon in cattle farming comes from the grass that the cattle is fed on, then the beef produced should be carbon neutral. But this is not the case.
Greenhouse gases are atmospheric gases that intercept long-wave (mainly infrared) radiation emitted from the Earth's surface.
PPM and PPB are units used in atmospheric chemistry to describe the concentration of gases.
The Global Warming Potential (GWP) of a greenhouse gas is its ability to trap extra heat in the atmosphere over time relative to carbon dioxide (CO2). This is most often calculated over 100 years, and is known as the 100 year GWP.
A carbon neutral activity is one that has a carbon footprint of zero.
Carbon is a very common element, present in plants, animals, the atmosphere, ocean, and rocks. It naturally moves between these forms by many processes, learn about some here.
The greenhouse effect is a warming of the earth's surface and lower atmosphere caused by substances which let the sun's energy through to the ground but impede the passage of energy from the earth back into space.

Climate

The Earth's climate has exhibited marked "natural" climate changes, with time scales varying from many millions of years down to a few years.
Information about past climate is obtained from piecing evidence together from various sources.
El Niño and La Niña refer to opposite extremes of the ENSO cycle, when major changes in the Pacific atmospheric and oceanic circulation occur.
Greenhouse gases are atmospheric gases that intercept long-wave (mainly infrared) radiation emitted from the Earth's surface.
Carbon is a very common element, present in plants, animals, the atmosphere, ocean, and rocks. It naturally moves between these forms by many processes, learn about some here.
The greenhouse effect is a warming of the earth's surface and lower atmosphere caused by substances which let the sun's energy through to the ground but impede the passage of energy from the earth back into space.
It was the atmospheric part of ENSO - (called the "Southern Oscillation" or "SO"), that first attracted the attention of scientists. It is one of several persistent patterns of high and low pressures around the globe.
Some people say that climate is what we expect, while weather is what we get.
In the absence of rain, most of the flow in a river is water that drains slowly from the ground.

Freshwater and Estuaries

Glass eels are juvenile forms of eel that begin life in the ocean trenches of the Pacific and migrate hundreds of kilometres to New Zealand.

There might be values missing from your data, or it contains figures that deviate widely from the mean. In order to compile accurate water quality models, you need data that draws on comprehensive information about water quality.

The NIWA-operated National Rivers Water Quality Network (NRWQN) is New Zealand's only national water quality monitoring tool.

Different groups of organisms need trained specialists (taxonomists) to distinguish a new species from one that is already named and scientifically described

Water quality levels are indicated by how well light transmits through water.

Whitebait are the juveniles of five species of galaxiidae, a family of fish confined to the Southern Hemisphere.

A mixing zone is a designated area of a stream or river into which wastewater is permitted to empty.

Reasonable mixing is the amount of pollutant that can be discharged into a mixing zone.

Natural Hazards

Rob Bell's analysis of the tsunami signature.
Some commonly-asked questions about tornadoes in New Zealand.
A powerful magnitude 8.0 earthquake ruptured the seafloor south of Samoa on 30 September 2009, unleashing a destructive tsunami on Samoa, American Samoa, and northern Tonga (Niuatoputapu).
The probability that events such as floods, wind storms or tornadoes will occur is often expressed as a return period.

Coasts and Oceans

Rob Bell's analysis of the tsunami signature.
Different groups of organisms need trained specialists (taxonomists) to distinguish a new species from one that is already named and scientifically described

Multibeam echo sounders emit a fan of sound beams to the seafloor to scan a wide swath of the seabed in great detail. 

Icebergs approach New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic islands every few years.

Styela clava at Viaduct Harbour, Auckland, New Zealand.

A powerful magnitude 8.0 earthquake ruptured the seafloor south of Samoa on 30 September 2009, unleashing a destructive tsunami on Samoa, American Samoa, and northern Tonga (Niuatoputapu).

Much of NIWA's science uses an instrument known as a mass spectrometer. But what is a mass spectrometer, and how to they work?

Pages