Impacts and Implications

Cars driving through flooding

Understanding the potential impacts and implications of climate change for New Zealand to support planning and decision-making, and aid adaptation efforts.

Understanding how climate change will impact New Zealand allows us to plan for it effectively.  To achieve this, we need to bring together different types of information and take a ‘big picture’ view of climate change and its impacts.

The programme has identified four areas of particular interest to New Zealanders. These are:

  • Extreme weather events
  • Drought
  • Changes in typical weather patterns
  • Sea level rise.

The programme will be delivered alongside the Engagement and Vision Mātauranga programmes that will connect the science to the experiences, needs, and decision-making processes of various sectors of New Zealand society. 


Research streams

The Impacts & Implications Programme will be implemented via four research streams.  

Targeted Impacts

This stream aims to improve New Zealanders’ ability to consider and evaluate key impacts of climate change, including strengthening links and interactions with the emerging New Zealand Earth System Model.

Tailored Implications

Tailored Implications will assist end-users, stakeholders, and communities build capacity to robustly consider climate change in various decision-making contexts and processes.

Engagement Adaptive Capacity

This work stream will support the Engagement Programme by connecting with Impacts & Implications research and researchers. 

Vision Mātauranga Adaptive Capacity

This will support the Vision Mātauranga Programme by increasing iwi/hapu access to, and collaborations with, Impacts & Implications research and researchers. 


Research themes

The Impacts and Implications programme consists of three inter-related research themes, which are discussed below.

Integrated assessment and impacts

Climate change has impacts across a range of areas. These include:

  • Physical impacts, such as sea-level rise and changing temperatures
  • Social and socioeconomic impacts, such as how the physical changes will impact different groups within New Zealand society
  • Environmental impacts, including how climate change will impact New Zealand’s natural environment.

In order to really effectively model and understand the impacts of climate change this theme will bring together the different impacts and explore how these interact with each other.

Implications and adaptations

The purpose of the Deep South Science Challenge is to produce knowledge that New Zealand communities including Māori, industry, and government groups can use to plan for, and adapt to climate change.

In order to do this it is necessary to involve these groups, and to learn what issues relating to the impacts of climate change are important to them. 

It also requires research into the institutions that facilitate climate change adaptation. That research will analyse both historical responses to environmental threats and the frameworks in which climate change-sensitive decisions are currently made.


Building on existing work

This Impacts and Implications programme will build on an existing four-year project: Climate Changes Impacts and Implications for New Zealand. This project, funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, provides a starting point for this programme.

The Climate Change Impacts and Implications project has been undertaking combined modelling of the impacts of climate change on human and natural systems and a series of case studies have been produced.

Visit the Climate Changes Impacts and Implications for New Zealand website


Funded projects


Science lead: Suzi Kerr, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research

Programme contact: Wilbur Townsend, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research


Latest news and updates

DSC Seminar #2: Dr Jonny Williams and the NZ earth system model

In the second of the Deep South Challenge seminar series, Jonny will introduce us to climate and earth system modelling, show how the NZESM fits within the Deep South Challenge and discuss how the NZESM contributes to understanding our climate future.

Deep South proud to support new science journalism fund

The Deep South Challenge is proud to be supporting the new Aotearoa New Zealand Science Journalism Fund - the first independent journalism fund dedicated to furthering coverage of the science-related issues that impact New Zealanders.

New $5 million support fund for quake-affected farmers

 Includes funding for projects and advice related to climate change impacts and opportunities.