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Sea level rise in New Zealand faster than expected: Wellington and Auckland threatened

Sea level rise in New Zealand faster than expected: Wellington and Auckland threatened

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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, Auckland. That’s according to a study published on Monday. “We have less time to perform, and that’s a little scary,” said study leader Tim Niach.


The researchers collected data along the coast of New Zealand, showing that some areas are actually sinking 3 to 4 mm each year. The projections in the study are the result of the extensive NZ SeaRise research program, which has been implemented over the past five years by local and international scientists.

The study now shows that authorities have less time than expected to take necessary measures, such as resettling coastal residents. Naish warns that if the world’s sea level rises by half a meter by 2100, it will be almost a meter in parts of the New Zealand archipelago where the land is sinking at the same time. “We still have time, but we no longer have time to sit down.”


The rapid rise in sea level is disastrous news, especially for the capital, Wellington. By 2040, the water level could rise by 30 cm, a level not initially expected until 2060. This means that the people of Wellington could become victims of severe flooding every year.

The southeast coast of the North Island, which is also the most densely populated part of the archipelago, is the most vulnerable. Auckland, the largest city with a population of 1.7 million, is particularly vulnerable. Along large parts of the coast in Auckland, water levels will rise 50 percent faster, according to scientists. The researchers note that this will have dire consequences for housing prices and insurance premiums.

NZ SeaRise has developed an online tool that will allow residents and authorities to check forecasts for a specific area, so they can estimate the risk of flooding or erosion.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said plans were already underway, including budgets to resettle people living along the coast.

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