Simulating New Zealand's changing climate
Establishing a New Zealand earth system modelling capability
A project which sits at the heart of the Deep South Challenge is the construction of the NZ Earth System Model (NZESM). The NZESM is a kind of crystal ball – a mathematical model of the earth’s natural systems so intricate it can predict the effects of emissions from our atmosphere, land and seas, and the terrestrial and marine biosphere, far into the future.
The two main aims of this major endeavour are to advance our fundamental understanding of important climate processes, and to predict New Zealand’s future climate out to the year 2100.
Almost all of the world’s climate modelling capacity is based in the northern hemisphere. Yet gaps in international observations and understandings of the deep south region (of great importance to global climate change) are reflected in projections of climate produced by these models. Our proximity means this particularly impacts the quality of climate projections for New Zealand.
In this significant endeavour – an international partnership led by the UK Meteorological Office – we’re helping to develop a powerful climate model and are augmenting it with improved formulations of Southern Ocean and Antarctic processes, informed by Deep South Challenge observations, to develop a comprehensive tool for simulating climate – the NZESM. We’re awaiting a new supercomputer – arriving in stages between late 2017 and early 2018 – which will greatly enhance our capacity to contribute to global understandings of climate change and make more accurate predictions of future climate in New Zealand and the Pacific.
By strengthening our ability to understand and anticipate our future climate, we’re giving New Zealanders the best possible chance to adapt and manage risk in the years to come.
Project contact: Olaf Morgenstern, NIWA
Project budget: $1.9 million
Project duration: 2015 – 2019
Research and findings:
Development of the New Zealand Earth System Model: NZESM, Olaf Morgenstern et al, Weather and Climate
Review of the global models used within phase 1 of the Chemistry–Climate Model Initiative (CCMI), Olaf Morgenstern et al, Geoscientific Model Development
The ESMP/P&O programmes in the Deep South National Science Challenge, Olaf Morgenstern & Adrian McDonald, Deep South Symposium
Which problems is the ESMP programme addressing? Olaf Morgenstern, Deep South Symposium
Return to the Earth System Modelling and Prediction programme page
Check out the full list of Deep South Challenge project
Latest news and updates
2018 may well be the year New Zealand gets serious about adapting to our changing climate. Last year, and the start of this one, gave all of us plenty of opportunities to experience a future in which creeping sea level rise and extreme weather – from drought to flood to surprise storm surges – make day-to-day life more precarious and more expensive.
In October 2017, the Deep South Challenge released a report into the state of the nation’s storm and waste water infrastructure, in the face of a changing climate. The report garnered significant media attention – not surprising given the infrastructure is currently valued at well over $20 billion.
The Deep South Challenge awards funding to investigate climate-resilient, high-value crops for the whānau of Omaio
The whānau of Omaio in the Bay of Plenty have joined forces with NIWA researchers to explore the viability of climate-resilient, high-value crops for the rohe. The group has won a $250,000 research grant under the Vision Mātauranga programme of the Deep South National Science Challenge to better understand Omaio’s changing climate and how it might support the community to create a local economy based around a high-value product like kiwi fruit.