Climate Change Risk Assessment: Otago


What’s it all about?

Climate change is a focus and priority for ORC, as outlined in our Long-term Plan.

It’s had a lot of focus in recent times as we see more and more extreme weather events globally. It’s more than just sea-level rise, it impacts on all of us throughout Otago, so to better understand this we’re carrying out a climate change risk assessment.

We commissioned a report from NIWA that describes projected climate changes for Otago. The report looks at expected changes for different climate factors, like temperature and rainfall as far ahead as 2100. It draws on climate model simulations from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report. It also looks at the hydrological impacts of climate change.

Read the full NIWA climate change report.


What does climate change mean for Otago?

Climate change could mean any or all of the following:

  • Warmer temperatures (more hot days, fewer frosts)
  • More wet conditions (winter and spring)
  • Significant decreases in snow
  • More windy days
  • An increase in storm intensity
  • Local wind extremes
  • More thunderstorms
  • Sea-level rise

While we can’t say with absolute certainty what is going to happen, we need to understand potential climate risks and how soon they might occur. We’ve initiated a climate change risk assessment for the Otago region to better understand these risks.


What will we get from this risk assessment?

This risk assessment will help us prioritise risks for the focus of adaptation plans.

We are hoping to:

  • Understand potential future climate scenarios
  • Identify risk areas - both where they are likely to occur and what the risks could be
  • Better understand the vulnerability of these risks
  • Better understand the consequences of the climate scenarios for these risk areas
  • Prioritise the risks for further information gathering and assessment
  • Understand how we as a community may need to adapt

The outcomes will help us identify the key areas of risk so different plans can be put in place for different scenarios. These plans must be adaptable so they can be changed if the risk factors follow different paths.


Who are we working with?

We are working closely with experts to understand possible climate change scenarios and assess the risks and impacts of these changes across all of Otago.

We are also working in partnership with your district and city councils, iwi and different industry groups to ensure all concerns are considered.

And the community. We will continue to keep our communities informed with updates throughout, providing any new information as it becomes available.


What stage are we at?

The project plan is complete and now we’re looking at existing studies to see where the gaps are regarding climate change, impacts, risks and vulnerabilities.

We have recently received a report from NIWA, summarising climate predictions for the region, for some climate variables. Next we'll work with district and city councils, industry groups and iwi to understand what these impacts may mean for our community as a whole. This will enable us to prioritise the risks we face while also identifying opportunities for our region.

We will keep you updated on the progress of this work.


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