National flood risks & climate change

flooded buslane

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.

  • Project Duration:  2 years (1st July 2017 to 30th June 2019).
  • Project Budget: $205,000 (GST exc)

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.

Principal Investigators:

Ryan Paulik, Hazards Analyst, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA)

Email:, Telephone: +64 (04) 386 0601


Other Impacts & Implications projects

Latest news and updates

Insurance: the canary in the coalmine of climate change?

The Deep South Challenge announces new research into who should bear the cost of our changing climate, and when.

All over New Zealand, from Haumoana to Westport, from Edgecumbe to the Kāpiti Coast, from Dunedin to Wellington City, homeowners and businesses are starting to feel the financial effects of climate change.

“Gaining traction on intractable issues”: An interview with Partnerships Director Susan Livengood

Susan Livengood is the Partnerships Director of the Deep South Challenge, and works within the Engagement programme – which tries to connect what’s happening in every programme of the challenge with both the broader public and with targeted individuals and organisations throughout New Zealand’s public and private sectors.