Understanding local impacts of rising seas on coastal communities

Project Leader(s) Associate Professor Wayne Stephenson (UoO), Dr Emma Ryan (UoA)

Project Team Associate Professor Mark Dickson (UoA), Dr Murray Ford (UoA)

Sea-level rise represents one of the most significant environmental challenges facing Aotearoa and the Pacific. In 2015, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment noted that sea-level rise “will lead to flooding on low lying land near the coast, erosion of many beaches and ‘soft’ cliffs and higher and possibly saltier coastal groundwater.” Since then, there have been many examples of failed coastal management in response to sea-level rise around Aotearoa. The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest report provides clear evidence that sea levels will continue to rise over this and into the next century at an accelerating rate and that shorelines will retreat. Trends in global and regional sea level are well known and can be viewed as a primary driver of shoreline behaviour.