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  • This interactive uses information from Our atmosphere and climate 2023 – an environmental report produced by the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ – to present evidence of climate change in Aotearoa New Zealand.

    Select here to view the full transcript and copyright information.

    This interactive image map displays 6 icons associated with indicators of climate change and climate action.

    This interactive diagram uses information from Our atmosphere and climate 2023 – an environmental report produced by the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ – to present evidence of climate change in Aotearoa New Zealand. For additional information – including the environmental indicators incorporated into the report and a list of references – visit the report online.

    The article Climate change – classroom competencies provides pedagogical information as well as links to Te Mātaiaho.

    Click on the labels for text from the report and for links to supporting articles, media and student activities.


    Greenhouse gas concentrations

    Greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere have increased steadily since pre-industrial times.

    Greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are the most significant driver of climate change since pre-industrial times. Natural influences such as climate oscillations can also lead to climate fluctuations. However, by increasing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, humans are having a profound impact on our climate.

    Nearly half of our emissions come from agriculture, mainly methane from farm animals. Our energy sector is the second-largest contributor, mainly carbon dioxide resulting from the combustion of fossil fuels for various purposes like driving, air travel, manufacturing and coal-fired electricity generation.

    The following resources provide information about atmospheric greenhouse gases and how we know human activities have driven rapid increases in emissions.




    Ecosystems are changing

    Changes in our atmosphere and climate are reflected through changes in our ecosystems and taonga species – altering ngā tohu o te taiao (environmental indicators).

    Through observing the environment closely over time, Māori developed a deep knowledge of location-specific environmental indicators – tohu – that help to monitor and forecast trends in te taiao. For example, monitoring the behaviour of birds and the blooming of flowers provides insights to weather and climate variability.

    The use of tohu reflects connection through whakapapa (genealogy) and the dependencies that exist throughout the atmosphere and wider environment.

    The timing of tohu is changing. Warming sea temperatures have changed the times when kina are fat and ready for gathering, and this is no longer in sync with the traditional summer blooming of the pōhutukawa.

    The following resources provide information about the impacts climate change is having on biodiversity, taonga species and ngā tohu o te taiao.




    Air temperatures are rising

    Average annual air temperatures are rising.

    Average annual temperature in Aotearoa has increased by 1.26°C (± 0.27°C) between 1909 and 2022 (114 years), with 8 of the 10 warmest years on record in the past decade.

    The hottest days of the year have increased by over 0.5°C during the past 20 years across many populated areas of Aotearoa.

    Growing seasons are lengthening and frost days are declining in most places.

    The following resources provide information about rising air temperatures and how we know human activities are creating these changes.




    Mitigation, innovation and action

    A determining factor for what will happen in the future is the human potential, both local and international, to respond appropriately to climate change by mitigation and adaptation activities. Our climate is influenced by the human choices that shape our institutions, economies and innovation processes. Māori have a legacy of adaptation over centuries. Mātauranga Māori and other processes are being used to help adapt to climate change through proven and sustainable methods. These are based on mātauranga Māori methods and values such as active kaitiakitanga (guardianship). The following resources provide information about some of the ongoing and innovative research and active kaitiakitanga happening within Aotearoa, along with ideas for fostering hope and change.




    Annual rainfall is changing

    Annual rainfall is changing. The south is becoming wetter and the north and east are becoming drier. Medium-term droughts are becoming more frequent.

    Many sectors of our economy rely on natural resources such as water, which depends heavily on rainfall and temperature. This includes the agricultural sector, which is particularly vulnerable to the extremes of high and low rainfall and often located on fertile floodplains, making it one of the highest-risk sectors in relation to climate change. Electricity generation is also dependent on rainfall.

    The following resources provide information about rainfall, weather and climate in Aotearoa and how we know the annual rainfall is changing.




    Extreme weather events

    Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and severe.

    A growing body of local evidence and research shows the intensity and/or frequency of extreme weather events we experience in Aotearoa is increasing with climate change.

    The frequency of tropical cyclones is slightly decreasing over the South Pacific basin, but the cyclones that do form are more severe.

    In early 2023, there were multiple severe weather events that overlapped in time and/or space. One example is the atmospheric river that delivered an unprecedented amount of rainfall to Auckland in January 2023, closely followed by the effect of Cyclone Gabrielle across much of the North Island in February 2023.

    The following resources provide information about extreme weather and how we know these events are becoming more frequent.





    This resource has been produced with the support of the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ. © Crown copyright.

    Diagrams were provided by the Ministry for the Environment, Stats NZ, and data providers, and licensed by the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ for re-use under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence.

    Rights: Crown copyright

    Our atmosphere and climate 2023

    The Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ produce New Zealand’s Environmental Reporting Series. Our atmosphere and climate 2023 focuses on climate change, with an emphasis on the effects of climate change on biodiversity and ecosystems.

    Rights: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato Published 11 October 2023 Size: 2.4 MB Referencing Hub media
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