Troubled New Zealand, sea level rise faster than expected

Sea levels in some parts of New Zealand are rising twice as fast as previously thought, with sea level rise threatening the island’s two largest cities, Wellington and Auckland, among others.

Sea levels are already rising as much as 3-4 millimeters per year in some areas, according to data collected by dozens of local and foreign scientists off the coast of New Zealand over the past five years as part of a large-scale research program called NZ SeaRise commissioned by the government.

The researchers called that authorities have less time than expected to adapt to the consequences of climate change, including resettling people who live along the coast.

While global sea levels are expected to rise by half a meter by 2100, water levels in large parts of the Pacific archipelago could rise by about one meter due to land subsidence, said Tim Naish, a professor at Victoria University of Wellington.

Such a rise would have a particularly disastrous impact on the capital, Wellington, where a 30 percent rise in water levels by 2060 could already occur by 2040. One consequence of this rise in levels is the expected annual flooding in the city.

The area most at risk is the southeast coast of the North Island, the most densely populated area of ​​New Zealand. Auckland, with a population of 1.7 million, is particularly prone to flooding in the city center and some suburbs.

An online map was created as part of the NZ SeaRise program, where residents can see how much sea level rise is expected in their place of residence or even anywhere in an uninhabited section, divided by two kilometres.

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