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Turbulent times

Turbulent times
Hoping for a smooth flight into Wellington? NIWA scientists can help.

In the latest issue of NIWA’s flagship magazine Water & Atmosphere, our meteorologists offer some tips for picking the best time to fly into the capital.

They say avoid spring – or at least pick a southerly rather than a northerly. That’s because, contrary to popular belief, airflow is generally rougher in a northerly because of the way it gets churned up over land.

Hot on the heels of an exceptionally windy October, which put Wellington Airport in the record books for the most number of cancelled flights in a single month, they also explain what causes turbulence and why Wellington happens to be so windy.

Spring is always the windiest season, as the graph of NIWA data attached shows, but this October wind gusts were stronger than 60km/h at Wellington Airport for two-thirds of the month. Usually the average is about half.

That prompted 430 flight cancellations in a month when the average is 96. Incidentally, of the 10 strongest winds to hit Wellington in the past decade, three have occurred in the past 15 months.

The latest Water & Atmosphere also explores the science involved in counting fish which aids understanding of the impact recreational fishers can have on major inshore fish stocks.

And we focus on a North Canterbury farmer whose property has become the “poster farm” for precision agriculture. Craige Mackenzie has developed a close relationship with NIWA hydrologists who are helping him boost farm efficiency and sustainability using science and technology.

NIWA marine biologist Wendy Nelson also shares her passion for seaweeds and explains how these clever, versatile algae feed millions of marine creatures, provide at least half the earth’s oxygen and stop the chocolate in your chocolate milkshake from sinking to the bottom.

Dr Nelson’s new book, New Zealand Seaweeds: An Illustrated Guide, is the first photographic identification guide to this country’s unique marine algae and includes more than 500 illustrations.

Water & Atmosphere also looks at the weather for summer and includes the award-winning photographs from NIWA’s annual photographic competition.

The magazine is available at


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