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Check out online how climate change may affect your place

Online tools for interactive climate change maps now available

People interested in how climate change may affect the region can now use a huge range of data to drill right down to its impact on local communities.

The data, based on four climate change scenarios ranging from minor to major changes in emissions across different time periods, covers variables such as rainfall, temperature, hot days, wet days, heavy rain days and potential evapotranspiration (drying out rates for plants and soil) deficit.

Two interactive map-based tools have now been made available on Greater Wellington’s website. They provide high-resolution future climate change maps, based on all four CO2 emission scenarios produced by the AR5, the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of the United Nations.

“We hope that presenting the information in this way will make the impact of climate change easier to understand and more relevant for people in the community,” says senior climate scientist Dr. Alex Pezza, from the council’s Environmental Science Department.

“It will also provide useful information for people making long term decisions on matters such as land use.

”But it is important to note the data is based on scenarios, we cannot foretell the future.”

Two versions of the information are available, one in GIS layers format for those familiar with a more technical tool, and a user-friendlier ‘story map’ version aimed at the general public. Users can zoom into the maps at whatever level of detail they desire. However, a cautionary note has been included to remind users that climate information is best interpreted as a general ‘large scale pattern’.

“Climate change will not stop at the artificial borders of micro-locations. Its effects will be region-wide with blurred boundaries between different impacts,” says Dr. Pezza

The results are based on data provided by NIWA. It uses a six-model average technique called ‘dynamical downscaling,’ a process which increases the resolution of the climate information down to the regional scale. This technique allowed NIWA to build on national scale climate change mapping produced for the Ministry for the Environment in 2016.

The data was produced by NIWA in their latest climate change report for Greater Wellington Regional Council, released in August last year.

Almost all variables produced by NIWA are available for each emission scenario for 2040 and 2090. More information will be included as it becomes available, possibly including sea level rise. At the moment the projections are only for annual averages, but seasonal data will also be included.

Greater Wellington is hoping these new tools will help its staff produce climate change information ‘on demand’ and enable others in the community to explore how their particular region will be affected by climate change. The more information we have, and the greater its precision, the better our future decisions will be,” says Dr. Pezza.

The maps can be found at:
https://mapping1.gw.govt.nz/GW/ClimateChange_StoryMap/# (public version)
https://mapping1.gw.govt.nz/gw/ClimateChange/ (professional version)


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