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We’re heating up

Editorial

Niwa confirmed yesterday that 2021 was the hottest year in New Zealand since records began. Seven of the past nine years have been among the warmest recorded, in a trend consistent with global warming. The Science Media Centre asked experts to comment:

“Sixteen stations experienced some of their hottest ever days in 2021, while only one station experienced its coldest day on record. That about sums up climate change in New Zealand: in the future, every cold record broken will be accompanied by another 5-10 hot records, if not more. Things will only improve if we reduce our gross carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions. Permanently, rapidly, and immediately.” — Luke Harrington, Senior Research Fellow in Climate Science, NZ Climate Change Research Institute, Victoria University

“Every year we spin the roulette wheel of weather variability; however, like a casino, we have rigged the game, and the hothouse always wins in the end.

“Aotearoa New Zealand sits in a privileged position globally to shelter from climate change. Deep in the South Pacific and surrounded by ocean, the effects of rising global temperatures due to climate change are moderated. However, our protective waters have been pulsing up to 3˚C recently, inexorably driving up our surface air temperatures.

“These higher background temperatures are exacerbating extreme weather events around the country. Heat extremes are getting hotter, and extreme rain events are getting wetter. Summer 2022 has continued at full throttle too, and with the weather variability wheel landing on La Niña, I wouldn't be surprised to see 2022 result in a back to back record.” — Nathanael Melia, Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, NZ Climate Change Research Institute

“The annual climate summary from Niwa highlights, once again, the inexorable changes in local, regional and national conditions, and the implications for lives and livelihoods, the effects on agricultural productivity, disruptions to critical infrastructure and supply chains due to flooding . . . . However, it is also necessary to acknowledge the spatially and socially differentiated nature of impacts. Mana whenua, rural regional communities, and climate-sensitive primary industries are particularly vulnerable, and investing now in risk reduction measures, building capability and capacity for adaptation and decision-making in the face of uncertainty, can enhance resilience to deliver better outcomes in the face of climate change and other stressors.” — Nick Cradock-Henry, Senior Scientist, Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research.

  1. Perry anderson says:

    One sided