Impact of climate change on New Zealand’s frozen water resources

Project Duration: 6th March 2017 ‐ 30th June 2019

Project Budget: $ 389,213

This research will address three of the Impact & Implication Programme's priority ares: drought, shifts in climate distributions and extreme weather, by providing improved future projections of glacier and snow melt from New Zealand’s alpine regions. New Zealand is projected to warm by 1‐4°C during the 21st Century. While warming will lead to loss of frozen water resources, the magnitude, timing, and distribution of changes in meltwater is unclear. Mountain rivers in both the North and South Islands of New Zealand feed our largest hydro‐electric power schemes, and provide critical water for irrigation, especially during drought. Melting snow and ice may also cause increased flooding risk. We will engage with local authorities and iwi to determine the specific needs of communities that utilise water flows. By developing and applying computer modelling tools to simulate snow and ice responses to climate change scenarios, we will make projections of future snow and ice cover, and resultant runoff from alpine catchments. Close collaboration with the Deep South Challenge hydrology research will allow this information to be fully utilised in broad‐scale hydrological assessments made using NIWA’s ‘Topnet’ model. Our findings will allow New Zealanders to be better placed to adapt, manage and thrive in our changing environment.

 

Principal Investigators:

Associate Professor Andrew Mackintosh, Victoria University, Andrew.Mackintosh@vuw.ac.nz, (027) 563 6193

Associate Professor Nicolas Cullen, University of Otago, nicolas.cullen@otago.ac.nz, (03) 479 3069

 

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