16 Sep 2003

New Zealand University wins contract to help Pacific cope with rising sea levels

4:52 pm on 16 September 2003

A team at Waikato University has won a world first contract to help Pacific Island countries cope with rising sea levels.

The contract from the Asian development Bank is the first time concrete action has been taken to deal with the threat to low lying Pacific islands from global warming.

James Hollings reports.

"The Pacific Ocean is forcast to rise by up to half as metre over the next fifty years. That'll cost some low lying island countries such as Tuvalu over three quarters of their land and even high countries like Tonga, will lose the most important quarter of their land, where major buildings and services are. On top of that, global warming is likely to make storm surges and sea levels more severe. Professor John Hays says that the Waikato University's International Global Change Institute will work with designers on new projects. One of these is a break water, planned for the Cook Islands."

This will probably result in having the break water at a higher elevation and also more robust in terms of being able to with stand more severe storm events

Professor Hays says the team will also help the goverment introduce new planning rules, that take account of the ominous long term forecast.