Have we got enough fresh water? The answer is “maybe”, but certainly not all in the right places, nor of the right quality. A new national centre has just been established to help manage New Zealand’s water resources.
The 48 glaciers of the Southern Alps monitored annually by NIWA continue to lose ice mass.
NIWA Senior Climate Scientist Dr Jim Salinger said today that after analysis of photographs taken on the survey of the glaciers it was apparent they had lost more ice than they gained during the past year.
“This is the fourth year in five in which the glaciers have lost ice mass, an ongoing trend which began in 1998. The loss over the past year was among the most pronounced recorded.”
A NIWA research voyage using RV Tangaroa has returned to Auckland on Thursday, 2 May, after three weeks of frontier mapping of undiscovered volcanoes between the North Island and the Kermadec Islands 1000 km to the north of New Zealand. Prior to the voyage little was known about this segment of the Pacific “Ring of Fire”.
The announcement last week that the Maui gas field might run out 2 years early is a worry because New Zealand relies on natural gas for much of its energy needs. There are also emission problems associated with burning fossil fuels, and fossil fuels are not renewable. So, where can we get the energy we need if we want to increase our economic prosperity and improve our standard of living, without damaging the environment?
A NIWA voyage, using RV Tangaroa, will leave Auckland on Wednesday, 10 April, for 22 days to undertake frontier research of undiscovered volcanoes between New Zealand and the Kermadec Islands. These volcanoes form possibly one of the least known segments of the “Pacific Ring of Fire”. Dr Ian Wright of NIWA is leading the project.
A CD released this week makes UV information available to the community. UV Atlas allows UV intensities in different parts of New Zealand to be compared directly, and quantifies long term changes in UV that have occurred in recent years. The product is the culmination of several years of research to make UV information more accessible to the community.
The recent breakup of the Larsen B iceshelf in Antarctica, which has produced many icebergs, some of which are 10 times or more the size of Wellington Harbour, means that icebergs could once again invade New Zealand’s waters.
"Icebergs formed by the breakdown of Antarctic ice sheets have repeatedly invaded offshore New Zealand over the past 200,000 years," says NIWA scientist Dr Lionel Carter.
"The large Antarctic Circumpolar Current transported the icebergs to New Zealand, where they then melted in the warmer waters."
The giant squid (Architeuthis), the world’s largest invertebrate, has never been seen alive – until now. A new Discovery Channel special joins an international expedition team in the waters off New Zealand as they succeed in capturing living juvenile specimens for the first time. The juveniles were found in the larval stage, ranging in size from 9 to 13 millimetres. The expedition, fully funded by the Discovery Channel, was undertaken in cooperation with NIWA and led by marine biologist Dr Steve O’Shea.
The Antarctic ozone hole has formed again this year, as expected, but it hasn't matched the records set last year.
“It reached a maximum size of just over 26 million square kilometres in mid-September, and it still occupies more than 20 million square kilometres”, said Dr Stephen Wood, a NIWA scientist currently at Scott Base, New Zealand’s Antarctic research station. “Last year the hole reached 30 million square kilometres in area, and the minimum ozone reading was 126 Dobson Units at Scott Base, whereas this year’s minimum was 132 Units.“
Two high-tech recording buoys shaped like dive tanks will be released into the Pacific Ocean this month by NIWA scientists as part of an international programme to understand and predict phenomena influencing the world‘s climate.
The buoys, worth $35,000 each, will provide real-time measurements of the temperature and salinity of the upper ocean that will help forecast long-term climate change, and events like El Niño and tropical cyclones.