King tides and climate change
King tides, like the one that rolled over the top of the south in January, are going to become more frequent as climate change continues to raise sea levels, an atmospheric scientist says.
Victoria University of Wellington atmospheric scientist and professor James Renwick said current predictions had sea levels rising nearly 2 metres by 2150, putting coastal properties at risk.
But even a sea level rise of 10 centimetres could turn a massive king tide event from every 100 years to every 30 years, he said.
Add another 10cm and it could happen every 10 years. Another 10cm on top of that and king tide events could be every three years, Renwick said.
Renwick said a rising sea level could cause a real problem for lowlying baches in the Marlborough Sounds and properties along the coast.
Renwick presented a submission on the Marlborough Environment Plan earlier this month on behalf of Climate Karanga Marlborough.
He said the rising sea level was a concern to coastal areas in Marlborough and around the country.
‘‘There’s a lot of properties and things that are pretty close to the beach or pretty close to the water line so anything there that’s within a metre or two of sea level now would be possibly at risk,’’ he said.
Victoria University of Wellington senior research fellow Judy Lawrence also presented a submission at the environment plan hearings on behalf of Climate Karanga Marlborough.
In her submission, she said the Marlborough coastline was quite exposed to the effects of sea level rise, inundation and flooding events over the short and medium terms.
Sea levels had already risen by 16 to 20cm over the past 100 years in New Zealand, she said.
Climate change was also likely to exacerbate the wind and fire risks in the region, she said. Hearings on the draft plan will run until mid-March.