The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) has launched a NZ$5m (US$3m) per year package of new projects aiming to tackle some of New Zealand’s most pressing challenges, including responding to and preparing for extreme weather events.
NIWA already undertakes extensive research in forecasting, climate change and extreme weather, natural hazards, atmospheric science and Māori environmental research. This new investment will enable NIWA to double down on efforts in these areas.
The new package includes an additional NZ$2.3m (US$1.4m) per year for extreme weather-related research, including forecasting impacts from extreme weather and also to support climate change resilient infrastructure development.
An additional NZ$1.85m (US$1m) per year has been allocated to work with Māori on climate adaptation and to better deliver NIWA science to iwi/hapu and Māori businesses. NIWA is also investing in new projects to fast-track solar and wind forecasts for renewable energy production and to measure and verify agricultural greenhouse gas emission reductions.
John Morgan, NIWA chief executive, said, “Following Cyclone Gabrielle and other extreme weather events in early 2023, NIWA urgently reprioritized some of our research to gather data in the immediate aftermath and to help affected communities recover from these events. This was complemented shortly afterwards by additional government funding to expedite our research into flood prediction and hazard risk assessment.
“These new investments will accelerate our efforts to increase New Zealand’s ability to respond to and prepare for future extreme weather events. As we have seen across the world in recent years, some of the biggest impacts of climate change have been increases in extreme weather events – such as storms, floods, droughts and wildfires.
“We know that such extreme events are going to become more frequent and more intense, and we need to be better prepared. Advanced, high-precision forecasts that link different hazards, such as rainfall with river flooding, will help all New Zealanders – including iwi, emergency managers, government, councils and the public – to face the challenges our changing climate brings.”