Just like Wanaka is a “lifestyle reserve“, Wanaka is also likely to be far less affected by climate change than many other places in the world. Not worried by sea level rise! And a bit warmer wouldn’t hurt, would it?
In our mountains, the biggest worry will be a shortened duration of seasonal snow lying, a rise in snow-line and a decrease in snowfall events. Glaciers will continue to melt.
The Ministry for the Environment Climate change projections for the Otago region page is worth reading. They predict:
- around 0.9˚C warmer by 2040,
- it will be wetter in winter and spring (more 29 % in Queenstown by 2090), drier in summer and autumn.
- very heavy rainfall events are likely to become more frequent in Otago, increasing the risks of floods.
- more often and stronger storms in winter (less in summer), with winds increasing between 2 and 5 per cent in winter, increasingly westerlies.
- About the snow, “at heights between 1000 and 2000m:
- the maximum seasonal snow depth is likely to decrease by approximately 20 per cent by 2040 and approximately 40 per cent by 2090
- a low snow year is expected to be five times more likely by the 2090s.”
Unfortunately Treble Cone summit lies at 2088m and Cardrona at 1860m…
In the NIWA Natural hazard 2008 report, landslides, hailstorm, snow storms and electrical storms are all described for Otago. The fruit industry in Otago will be affected by summer droughts. The winter frosts will decline therefore bugs are likely to thrive.
And climate change is going to affect our native species, and their habitats in many diverse ways, states the Forest and Bird website. Birds and natives may have to move up to survive in their usual temperature but it is not always possible so it may mean they are out. Also some species, like tuataras -we don’t have any in our area to my knowledge- need a specific temperature for incubation therefore climate change is adding a threat to their survival.
Conversely, pests and insects are opportunist creatures and will make strides in changing conditions.
There is a last aspect I think is significant for our area: the impact of climate refugees, coming to live in our town because theirs is doomed. It may well have already started.
We are definitely all in there together!