National flood risks & climate change

A man stands knee-deep in floodwaters in Waitotara

Emergent exposure of flood inundation hazards under future climate change in New Zealand

Floods are some of New Zealand’s most frequent, most damaging and most disruptive natural hazards. As our climate changes, flooding caused by both increased rainfall and rising sea levels – in coastal areas and on floodplains – is expected to increase.

As floods worsen, so will the social, cultural, economic and environmental consequences. Pinpointing exactly which areas are most at risk can be difficult, especially as extreme weather events become more frequent and less predictable.

There’s not a lot of information currently available to central and local government about exactly what infrastructure is at risk. Information is urgently needed to help identify high-risk areas and prioritise mitigation and adaptation efforts.

This project will produce scientific models that allow practitioners and researchers to identify how flood risk may evolve in their area. These models will determine which assets – like buildings, roads, bridges and railway lines – are at risk, on both a regional and national level.

The models produced by this research will be available in open access software called RiskScape, developed by NIWA and GNS Science, to directly help those people whose job it is to manage flood risk. If we can accurately predict the areas of highest risk, we can adapt, minimising harm to New Zealand’s population and economy.

Project contact: Ryan Paulik, NIWA
Project budget: $205,000
Project duration: July 2017 – June 2019

This project in the media:
Funding announced for climate resilience research,

Research and findings:
Emergent exposure of flood inundation hazards under future climate change in New Zealand, Ryan Paulik, Deep South Symposium


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