The Science: Climate Change

What is it?

Earth’s atmosphere is made up of oxygen, a large amount of nitrogen and a small percentage of greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases act like a blanket around the Earth. They trap warmth from the sun and make life on Earth possible. Without them, too much heat would escape and the surface of the planet would freeze. However, increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere causes the Earth to heat more and the climate to change.

This process is often called global warming, however think of it as climate change, as many aspects of climate may change, not just temperature. There are likely to be more extreme climate events such as floods, storms, cyclones and droughts.

There is much evidence for climate change, including direct temperature measurements, land and sea ice melt, ocean temperature changes, changes in rainfall patterns, and shifts in ranges of some plants and animals, as well as season timing.

The Science: Climate Change

The Science: Climate Change

The Science: Climate Change

What is it?

Earth’s atmosphere is made up of oxygen, a large amount of nitrogen and a small percentage of greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases act like a blanket around the Earth. They trap warmth from the sun and make life on Earth possible. Without them, too much heat would escape and the surface of the planet would freeze. However, increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere causes the Earth to heat more and the climate to change.

This process is often called global warming, however think of it as climate change, as many aspects of climate may change, not just temperature. There are likely to be more extreme climate events such as floods, storms, cyclones and droughts.

There is much evidence for climate change, including direct temperature measurements, land and sea ice melt, ocean temperature changes, changes in rainfall patterns, and shifts in ranges of some plants and animals, as well as season timing.

What Influences Warming

What Influences Warming

It is true that climate change has been driven by natural causes in the past. Our climate has undergone many changes over millions of years — from ice ages to tropical heat and back again. Natural changes over the past 10,000 years have generally been gradual which has enabled people, plants and animals to adapt or migrate, although some prehistoric climate changes may have been abrupt and are likely to have led to mass extinction of species.

However, over the past 150 years there has been a marked and growing increase in greenhouse gas producing activities such as industry, agriculture and transportation. These activities are increasing the level of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere and causing the Earth not only to heat up, but to heat up at an unprecedented rate.

Find out more about climate change, and what New Zealand is doing about it on the Ministry for the Environment website.

What Influences Warming

What Influences Warming

It is true that climate change has been driven by natural causes in the past. Our climate has undergone many changes over millions of years — from ice ages to tropical heat and back again. Natural changes over the past 10,000 years have generally been gradual which has enabled people, plants and animals to adapt or migrate, although some prehistoric climate changes may have been abrupt and are likely to have led to mass extinction of species.

However, over the past 150 years there has been a marked and growing increase in greenhouse gas producing activities such as industry, agriculture and transportation. These activities are increasing the level of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere and causing the Earth not only to heat up, but to heat up at an unprecedented rate.

Find out more about climate change, and what New Zealand is doing about it on the Ministry for the Environment website.

What does this mean for Auckland?

Action

The choices we all make in our everyday lives contribute to our 'carbon footprint'. This is an estimate of the amount of carbon dioxide produced by the activities we do and products we use. While it may not seem like much to choose to take the bus instead of driving, compost your food scraps instead of sending them to landfill, or insulate your home to save energy, the collective impact of doing these things adds up across Auckland and beyond. We can all make a difference to reduce the effects of climate change.

Projections and adaptation

NIWA are currently producing a report for Auckland Council, outlining climate change projections and impacts for our region. This will include maps of climate variables over time, and insight into the impacts of climate change for our city. Check back soon to see a video and report of the key findings.

What does this mean for Auckland?

What does this mean for Auckland?

What does this mean for Auckland?

Action

The choices we all make in our everyday lives contribute to our 'carbon footprint'. This is an estimate of the amount of carbon dioxide produced by the activities we do and products we use. While it may not seem like much to choose to take the bus instead of driving, compost your food scraps instead of sending them to landfill, or insulate your home to save energy, the collective impact of doing these things adds up across Auckland and beyond. We can all make a difference to reduce the effects of climate change.

Projections and adaptation

NIWA are currently producing a report for Auckland Council, outlining climate change projections and impacts for our region. This will include maps of climate variables over time, and insight into the impacts of climate change for our city. Check back soon to see a video and report of the key findings.