The Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ have released an updated report on the state of New Zealand’s atmosphere and climate.
The report documents trends in global and local conditions, including a 1°C temperature increase in New Zealand since 1909.
Sea levels have risen between 14 and 22 centimetres at four main New Zealand ports since 1916, while in more promising news, the global production of ozone-depleting substances dropped 98 per cent between 1986 and 2015, leading to gradual recovery of the ozone.
“The news about ozone recovery is very heartening. It shows that it is possible, with global agreement, to halt and even reverse large-scale environmental problems caused by man. The Montreal Protocol on protection of the ozone layer continues to be hugely successful, and could be thought of as a blueprint for action on climate change. In fact, changes due to the Montreal Protocol have already had a significant effect on climate, as the now-banned CFCs that led to ozone depletion, are also potent greenhouse gases.
“Although ozone appears to be on a path towards recovery, we need to remain vigilant. The situation is delicate at present, and we remain at risk from possible effects from future volcanic eruptions, or non-compliance to the terms of the Montreal Protocol. And some of the atmospheric processes are not yet fully understood.
“As far as UV radiation is concerned, we need to be especially vigilant. New Zealand is the melanoma capital of the world, and any change in UV expected from future recovery in ozone will not change that. Changes to personal behaviour are needed.
“These UV questions will be addressed at an upcoming UV Workshop to be held in Wellington next April.”
Note: Dr McKenzie was on the Technical Advisory Group for the MfE/Stats NZ report.