King tides and cli­mate change

Marlborough Express - - NEWS - EMILY HEYWARD

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.

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