As climate change becomes worse, two studies have predicted that severe storm surges will get even bigger around parts of South Island.
Laura Cagigal, lead author of the most recent study, confirmed that storm surges will only be around 10cm bigger or smaller on average, depending on the location. However, coastal communities are still in danger – with the risk expected to get worse due to climate change.
The studies further explained that storm surges will launch from a higher starting point with each passing year – emphasising that the rise in sea levels will allow a smaller storm to cause a bigger amount of flooding.
“What is really interesting is that both these studies show the same thing. What they suggested was that wave heights and size of storm surges are going to be bigger in the south and west of New Zealand and they are going to be smaller in the north and east of New Zealand,” said Dr. Scott Stephens from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), as reported by Newsroom.co.nz. “But the actual changes are not large and quite subtle, so in fact ... we are not going to see a massive difference.”
To make matters worse, it seems struggles in high-risk areas have prompted insurers to consider climate change risks.
“As the risk increases, and as a country if we do nothing about that risk, people will see the increasing risk reflected in the prices. At a point in the future, it is certain that parts of New Zealand will be underwater that aren’t today, and therefore, will be uninsurable,” said Bryce Davies, climate sustainability spokesperson for IAG.