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Teaming up to tackle sea level rise

21 January 2020

Sea level rise is an imminent threat to certain areas of the Wellington Region, so how will locals adapt to changing landscapes – four university students from the US are here to find out.

For the past seven years the Greater Wellington Regional Council has hosted students from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, a science and engineering university, on a range of projects that focus on flood protection.

Greater Wellington Flood Protection Advisor Ross Jackson says students Julia Cuendet, Nicole Kring, Nina Taurich and Andrew Hunt will carry out a research project, beginning in January, titled ‘Adapting to sea level rise in the Seaview/ Gracefield area’.

“Students from this university have been coming to Wellington for years to undertake high quality research projects at the intersection of technology, society and environment.

“Students come at their own expense and, without exception, all the reports produced by the previous groups have been of high quality and provide valuable base material for Greater Wellington,” Ross says.

The outline for this year’s project involves the students developing a staged approach to adapting and changing future land use in response to the effects of sea level rise for the reclaimed land in the Seaview/ Gracefield area at the confluence of the Waiwhetu stream with Te Awa Kairangi/ Hutt River and the Wellington Harbour.

Greater Wellington Councillor, and chair of the Hutt Valley Flood Management Subcommittee, Prue Lamason says this is a fantastic opportunity for the students to gather the views of various communities in the area on the potential flood hazard risk associated with climate change.

“In collaboration with the communities, these four students will develop an adaptive pathways land use plan looking forward over a period of 50 to 100 years.

“Worldwide countries are struggling with the impacts of climate change and sea level rise. In New Zealand 60 per cent of the population live on floodplains and the coastal edge which means they are facing an increasing risk from flooding and water inundation.”

This project will assist Greater Wellington in understanding the views of the communities within this specific area and provide the basis for the development of a land use plan.

“We anticipate this project will compliment and build on climate change and flooding studies that have previously been carried out,” Cr Lamason says.


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