MetService and Climate Change
- New Zealand is one of 192 Member States and Territories of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), a United Nations (UN) Specialised Agency that focuses on international cooperation on weather, climate, and hydrology. The Meteorological Service of New Zealand Limited (MetService) is responsible for New Zealand’s representation with the WMO.
- MetService supports the consensus view of WMO and its Member States that:
- Long-term climate change is increasing the intensity and frequency of extreme weather and climate events and causing sea level rise and ocean acidification.1
- The ever-growing global population faces a wide range of hazards such as tropical cyclone storm surges, heavy rains, heatwaves, droughts and many more.1
- Scientists have been observing changes in the climate that cannot be attributed solely to natural influences. These changes are occurring rapidly, are significant, and will have consequences for this and future generations. Changes in climate variability and extremes driven by human-induced global warming are some of the key challenges facing humanity.2
- Mindful of changes in frequency and severity of weather events, MetService will continue to advance its world-class meteorological and oceanographic services to keep people safe and prosperous.
- MetService maintains a team of around 65 meteorologists in its 24/7 forecasting operation and 10 oceanographers in the MetOcean division. Together they provide expertise in forecasting weather and ocean conditions, including public weather services and services for specialised sectors such as aviation, marine and media. That means there is always an expert meteorologist or oceanographer available to help you understand what the upcoming weather means for you.
What is Climate Change?
- The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)3 defines "climate change" as: "a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods." 4
- From a global perspective, climate change is expected to decrease water availability in arid and semi-arid regions, which could lead to a doubling of the population living with water scarcity in the next 30 years. Areas affected by diseases such as malaria (and waterborne illnesses) could well expand, while crop models indicate a decrease in yields for tropical and sub-tropical areas. It has also been calculated that a rise of more than a few degrees would trigger a fall in plant productivity throughout most regions of the world.3
- The Ministry for the Environment publication Environment Aotearoa 2019 Summary5 provides the following information about climate change in New Zealand:
New Zealand is already being affected by climate change and many significant changes in our climate are being seen across the country.
- These include higher land and sea temperatures, sea level rise (14–22 centimetres in the last century), ocean acidification, more sunshine, and melting glaciers (our glaciers have lost 25 percent of their ice in the past 40 years). Some locations are experiencing drier soils, altered precipitation patterns, fewer frost days, and more warm days. Extreme wind has decreased at some locations. Most places have seen no change in extreme rainfall since 1960, but studies indicate that because of climate change, some flood and drought events were worse than they would have been or had a higher likelihood of happening.
- Many of the impacts of climate change are irreversible on a human timescale, and some impacts, like erosion from extreme rainfall or species extinction, cannot be reversed at all. Stopping further emissions will not return us to a normal climate because carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for centuries to millennia. As long as greenhouse gas concentrations remain elevated, the risk from extreme events like heat waves, droughts, and storms will be elevated.
About the IPCC
- The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)6 is the leading international body for the assessment of climate change. It was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)7 and the WMO8 in 1988 to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts.
- The IPCC reviews and assesses the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change. It does not conduct any research, nor does it monitor climate-related data or parameters.4
- Membership of the IPCC, which is open to all UN members, currently comprises 195 countries.9 Governments participate in the review process and the plenary Sessions, where main decisions about the IPCC work programme are taken and reports are accepted, adopted and approved.10
- Thousands of scientists from all over the world contribute to the work of the IPCC. Review is an essential part of the IPCC process, to ensure an objective and complete assessment of current information, with the IPCC aiming to reflect a range of views and expertise.11