The complexity of climate change, as well as the unpredictable rate of change, can be overwhelming when considering how to respond to these challenges at a district or a regional level. Fortunately, the next infrastructure strategies and asset management plans developed by councils (in 2021) will benefit from new, publicly funded climate change research. The Deep South National Science Challenge is valuable to councils because it covers five key climate impacts.
- Climate extremes — improving our understanding of the return period and severity of floods, droughts, heat waves, and other climate extremes in future.
- Changes in typical temperature and rainfall — recognising changes in temperature and rainfall affect both the supply and demand for water.
- Droughts — improving the modelling of the processes that drive droughts in New Zealand.
- Floods — improving projections of precipitation and flooding.
- Sea-level rise — incorporating up to date sea-level rise projections into RiskScape modelling, in parallel with river flow and flooding information from hydrology modelling, to understand the combined effects of these processes.
Supporting investment decisions and community engagement
In summary, this national science challenge will supply local government with critical data to support investment decisions, including assistance with decision making on whether infrastructure services will remain viable in the future.
The research will also be useful to council staff engaging with communities on climate change issues. Lessons from local adaptation to climate change engagement initiatives will be documented and shared.
Advice to the Climate Commission
Another key end-user for the Deep South National Science Challenge is the Climate Commission, which is expected to have a major influence on both central and local government policy for climate adaptation. Providing the best available information about climate change impacts will inform the development of a national framework for assessing climate change risks and vulnerabilities.
At the risk of causing information overload, there are several other national science challenges with particular relevance to local government (website links listed below). Most of them have a newsletter you can sign up for, to receive updates on the emerging research and engagement opportunities.
- Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities
- Our Land and Water
- New Zealand’s Biological Heritage
- Resilience to Nature’s Challenges
- Sustainable Seas.
Please share this article with anyone who may benefit from knowing about these science challenges.