Dave Allen

The new normal

The Earth has always had a dynamic climate, but it has never changed as fast as it is changing now. Reducing emissions, finding new solutions and adapting how we live and work is the challenge of the century.

Geography

The year of silt

Twelve months on from Cyclone Gabrielle, many people are still fighting to return home. On February 14, 2023, floodwaters filled their houses with mud and destroyed possessions, memories, and livelihoods. Survivors were left virtually on their own to tackle the massive clean-up job—until a network of volunteers began digging out houses and supporting them through the trauma, forging unexpected connections along the way.

Science & Environment

The stuff of life

There are places in our seas where the great, whirring cogs of the world hold still. Where the process of decay pauses—for your lifetime, for your children’s, longer—and carbon sleeps, tucked safely away in the sludge. In New Zealand these places are the fiords, the ocean deeps, and the spongy, muddy fringes of our coastlines. And we’re only just beginning to understand them.

Living World

The future of the world is written in penguin blood

Erect-crested penguins are one of the most mysterious birds on the planet. We have little idea how many there are, what they eat, where they forage, or how their environment may be changing as the Southern Ocean warms. No one has even visited the Bounty Islands where they breed in three years. Scientist Thomas Mattern chartered a yacht and mounted a mission to answer some of these urgent questions before it’s too late.

Living World

Summer 33

Two people have been counting albatrosses on remote islands in the subantarctic for more than three decades. Their research shows that at least one species is en route to extinction. A few changes to the way we fish could save it.

Geography

What storms may come

Much of New Zealand’s coastal property has an expiry date, with its value set to be wiped off the ledger in as little as nine years’ time, well before sea levels rise and coastlines are redrawn. What will happen to marae and communities by the beach? And why are we still buying—and building—properties right in the danger zone?

Science & Environment

The long haul

Antarctica is a puzzle that science is racing to solve. The continent shifts from stable to unstable, frozen to melting, without much warning—and we don’t know why, or how. This switch hasn’t taken place in the century we’ve been observing it. But Antarctica has its own records that go back millennia, buried in the sea floor beneath hundreds of metres of ice. To retrieve them, a New Zealand-led expedition journeyed to the heart of the Ross Ice Shelf—a featureless, inhospitable expanse the size of France.

Geography

Afterburn

Wildfires were rare in Aotearoa prior to humans. That changed, but it is climate change that will fuel the inferno of the future.

Geography

The final meltdown

Retreating glaciers and thinning snow and ice are the future of New Zealand’s mountains. Climate change is predicted to warm the country’s atmosphere by 1–4°C by the end of the century, altering the natural water cycle—how much is frozen as snow, how much falls as rain, and how much flows in rivers. Climate researchers are seeking to predict what will change, and when. What will be the impact on hydroelectric power stations and irrigation schemes? Which areas will be hit hardest by flooding, or increasingly severe drought? The Deep South National Science Challenge is taking a lead role in helping decision-makers plan for the coming century.

Science & Environment

Acid seas

The chemistry of seawater is changing, becoming more acidic, and this transformation is most profound along our coastlines. In this delicate borderland between land and sea, some places are experiencing a surge in acidity, peaking at levels that the open ocean isn’t predicted to reach until the end of this century. What does this mean for marine life?

Science & Environment

New Zealand's Next Top Model

A small group of Kiwi scientists is attempting to construct the ultimate crystal ball—a mathematical model of the Earth’s natural systems so intricate that it can predict the behaviour of our atmosphere, land and seas, human industry and biological production, far into the future.

Living World

Species at risk: 2º from Oblivion

From native frogs to alpine plants, signs of change are all around us, a frightening barometer with which to gauge our changing climate and a reminder that if we can conserve these species most at risk, there is hope for all.

Science & Environment

Antarctic science: Under the Ice

Antarctica’s fragile ecosystem is a barometer for the warming and acidification of Earth’s oceans. Over the last decade, NIWA scientists have been diving under the ice as part of Project IceCUBE to gauge just how the ecosystem might cope with these threats.