What’s causing this heavy rain? ‘Clearly global warming is in the mix’ – RNZ
A climate scientist says climate change and long-term weather systems are behind the recent extreme flooding in the country – including the ravaged Tairāwhiti Gisborne.
MetService has upgraded its forecast for the area this evening to a “red warning” – reserved for the most severe weather events, and an additional 200 millimetres is being predicted for this evening.
Dr Jim Salinger said the country was having its third hottest warm season on record, and that the recent spate of record heavy rain events is unlike Aotearoa has seen.
He said temperatures were, on average, about a degree warmer than they used to be, and when that happens the atmosphere holds more water which can lead to larger downpours.
The massive rainfall in Gisborne is being picked to be a one on 100-year event.
“Just the number of times we get the so called ‘one in 100 year events’ means that [it is based on] what [the] average climate used to be – but we’ve warmed.
“Clearly global warming is in the mix, we’ve got La Niña as well which brings down warm air over New Zealand. And away it goes.”
Meanwhile, he said temperatures hit 26s and 27s in Otago yesterday – which was not typical for the end of March.
Climate change is this generation’s challenge – Kiritapu Allan
Emergency Management Minister and MP for the East Coast Kiritapu Allan said climate change was a very real issue which impacted New Zealanders “at a very visceral level”.
She said Climate Change Minister James Shaw was leading work on climate change adaptation as part of resource management act reform.
“We know that coastal properties are vulnerable, it is something we have to work with and no doubt adapt our behaviours and the way that we live.
“That’s really one of the challenges that we, as a generation, have to face.”