What the research shows

SDC together with the other councils in the region have commissioned the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research to conduct a climate change impact assessment to understand the impacts on the Southland region. The findings show;

  • Southland will generally become warmer (0.5 to 1°C by 2040 and 0.7 to 3°C by 2090)
  • a general increase in annual number of hot days (greater than 25⁰C) and heatwave days
  • southern areas are projected to experience increased average rainfall totals across all seasons
  • number of wet days are expected to decrease for some areas
  • projected increase in probability of a potential evapotranspiration deficit (PED) of 200mm (very dry soil conditions)
  • at least 0.3m sea-level rise (SLR) by 2040 up to 0.9m by 2090.

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Sea level rise projections

The NZ SeaRise Programme has released sea-level rise projections specific to locations until the year 2300 at 2km intervals for the entire coastline of Aotearoa New Zealand.

These projections can be accessed through Takiwā, a web based interactive data management platform. The tool allows users to see how the sea level is expected to rise in a given location and by when, under different climate change scenarios. The platform provides both sea-level rise projections and vertical land movement projections.

SDC is using these projections to develop a coastal risk assessment for key coastal settlements to understand the potential coastal risks.

In our coastal areas, sea-level can rise as high as 2.1m over the next 100 years, depending on vertical land movement of the location. This means, extreme sea-levels and coastal flooding will be more frequent. Projection of extreme sea-levels shows that a present day 100-year coastal flood (1% annual exceedance probability) will become much more frequent event in New Zealand as sea-level continue to rise and possibly strike every year by 2050. A such situation will have serious implications on our communities and infrastructure. The following study shows how residential insurance can be affected due to sea-level rise.

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Southland Climate Change Impact Assessment

Sea level rise and the withdrawal of residential insurance in Aotearoa New Zealand


Southland is only responsible for 8% of the overall emissions of the country. However, the region has the highest per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions due to the low population of the region compared to other regions. Southland’s per capita emission is 60.2t CO2 equivalent in 2021, compared to the national average of 15.3t CO2 equivalent.

Our agriculture-based economy is the primary reason for high GHG emissions, but having a clear understanding of our emissions is important for us to make informed decisions to reduce emissions from all possible areas, to play our part in the global effort to mitigate climate change.