Two degrees warmer?

The world is warming up—analysis of observations by Victoria researchers, shows that the average global temperature is now 1°C higher than it was 200 years ago.

Moisture collects in warm air and falls as rain, and as the earth gets warmer, there’s more heavy rain. As a result, flooding becomes more frequent. Increasing temperatures are causing glaciers and ice sheets to melt.

The latest science says that by the year 2100, the sea level is projected to be as much as 1.5 metres higher than it is now.

Research being conducted by Victoria University’s ice sheet modellers shows that a rise of more than 2°C will cause catastrophic melting of large parts of the Antarctic ice sheet.

New Zealand would look markedly different with 1.5 metres of sea level rise.

By building a clearer picture of what is happening right now, we can help the world either prevent this or prepare for it.

What does climate change mean for New Zealand?

Our coastline would be significantly redrawn and many places would be more prone to serious flooding from rivers and coastal inundation, says Professor James Renwick, who recently led a Royal Society of New Zealand report into the issue.

New Zealand could lead the world in reducing greenhouse gas emissions

In the same way that New Zealand punches above its weight on the sports field, we could also be leading the rest of the world in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, says Professor Renwick.

“On a per capita basis we are one of the largest emitters in the world, and I think we have a responsibility, like every country does, to do something about this issue,” he says.

“We can’t dodge it by saying we’re not big players internationally. It doesn’t matter that we’re a small country when it comes to rugby, for example. So we could be leaders in greenhouse gas emissions reductions, and that would provide moral leadership to the world.”

To find out more

If you have any questions about climate change research at Victoria, contact: