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NIWA designs climate change ocean atlas

New Zealand: National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research of New Zealand (NIWA) designed world’s first climate change ocean ‘atlas’ – for its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). It maps out New Zealand’s resources within the EEZ, highlights climate change related issues and shows how plants and animals in the area may respond to future changes facing New Zealand’s waters. This version of the atlas is a first look at what will become an interactive web-based tool.

The atlas simplified and collated information about climate change in the region. As it is developed it will give users the ability to customise and compile the necessary information to focus on particular questions. It can help frame discussion and inform policy makers about what is needed to reduce uncertainties on the future of the marine life in our EEZ.

“It will offer New Zealand a repository of three interlinked strands of information, by bringing together who lives where, how vulnerable they are to environmental change, and how our EEZ environment is projected to change. We can construct a wide range of simple and insightful scenarios to address a wide range of topics – it’s like a toolkit,” said Dr Boyd from NIWA.

Users will eventually be able to control their view of multiple layers of information overlaid on a digital map. They will be able to view the information based on different time periods so that they can come to grips with how our environment will change. The seas surrounding New Zealand could warm by up to 4oC in the coming century. The magnitude of these changes will differ between water bodies. These changes, and the response of plants and animals to them, will mean that there are some areas where the effects will be greater than others.

The value of the marine resources harvested within the EEZ is estimated to be over NZD 4 billion per annum (New Zealand Dollars: NZD) and supports over 10,000 jobs.

Source: NIWA