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New Zealand sea levels to rise faster than expected: Wellington and Auckland at risk | Science & Planet

In large parts of New Zealand, sea levels are rising twice as fast as expected, threatening two major cities, the capital Wellington and the largest city Auckland. “We have less time to perform, and that’s a little scary,” said study leader Tim Nyash.

Researchers collected data along the New Zealand coastline, showing that some areas are already sinking 3 to 4 millimeters each year. The expectations contained in the study are the result of NZ SeaRise, a large-scale research project carried out over the past five years by local and international scientists.

The study, released on Monday, shows that authorities have less time than expected to take the necessary steps, such as evacuating coastal residents. Naish warns that if global sea levels rise by half a meter by 2100, land will sink by almost a meter in parts of the New Zealand archipelago at the same time. “We still have time, but no time to sit still.”

A disaster for capital

Rapidly rising sea levels are particularly dire news for the capital, Wellington. By 2040, water levels could rise by 30 centimeters, which was not initially expected until 2060. This means residents of Wellington will suffer from severe flooding every year. The southeast coast of the North Island, the most populated part of the archipelago, is most at risk.

Auckland, the largest city of 1.7 million people, is also particularly vulnerable. According to scientists, along much of Auckland’s coastline, sea levels will rise 50 per cent faster. Researchers point out that this could have major effects on home prices and insurance premiums.

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NZ SeaRise has put a tool online that will allow people and authorities to check forecasts for a specific region so they can assess the risk of flooding or erosion.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said plans are already underway, including a budget to resettle people living along the coast.