Government decides better weather data access ‘not a priority’

The Government has decided not to change access to weather data in New Zealand, putting improved access into the ‘not a priority’ basket.

A spokesperson for Minister of Research, Science and Innovation Dr Megan Woods said that NIWA was “performing satisfactorily against the New Zealand open data principles, therefore no changes were necessary for its data-access provisions”.

This is despite a 2017 review of open-access weather data for MBIE found New Zealand had the most restrictive barriers out of the United States, Norway, Australia, the United Kingdom and France.

Stuff: Weather data remains restricted –  Government not stepping in to release more taxpayer-funded weather data

The Government has no intention of changing how New Zealand’s two taxpayer-funded forecasting agencies work in an effort to improve access to weather data.

Minister of Research, Science and Innovation Dr Megan Woods says changes have already been signalled by state-owned enterprise MetService to improve data access for competitors, meaning “its services will better align with New Zealand’s open data principles”.

Woods said the decision not to change Niwa and MetService’s operating models was made by her, Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Associate Minister of State-Owned Enterprises Shane Jones after discussions in September last year.

In a briefing, released to Stuff under the Official Information Act, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) proposed five options for improving access to data, ranging from the status quo to structural changes of both agencies.

MBIE recommended negotiating changes with both to minimise any possible loss of income from releasing what is largely taxpayer-funded data.

But other documents released showed Treasury did not want to pay for any solution and said MetService’s planned changes were enough, a recommendation that was adopted by the ministers.

MetService’s data changes already under way include:

– A new website with improved data support to be rolled out in the first half of this year.

– A new interface to make a wider range of free data, up to a certain level, publicly available.

– Provision of open oceanographic data.

WeatherWatch managing director Philip Duncan…

…said it was ironic, but unsurprising, that significant parts of the reports dealing with open access to data had been withheld.

“Taxpayers must fund both Niwa and MetService, then we cannot use the data we fund, and on top of that the Government redacts information about why.

“If both Niwa and MetService operate heavily commercially, and both say they are highly accurate, why would the Government need to give them even more money for apparent ‘lost revenue’ if they opened up data?”

National’s research, science and innovation spokeswoman, Dr Parmjeet Parmar​…

…said it was disappointing the Government had opted for “business as usual” after recent reviews.

“With this decision she is going to do nothing. After all this work, and now she has come back and stopped this halfway. In my view it has been a big waste of resources.”

Woods:

“The ministers decided changing the legislative and operating model was not a priority when [the] Government is tackling a number of other priorities”.

Labour has used “not a priority” as an excuse for not doing things they have previously indicated they might do (before they got into Government).

‘Not a priority’ – not actually a progressive government as claimed by Jacinda Ardern..

2018 was second equal hottest year on record, ‘alarming trend’ – NIWA

NIWA (National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research) say that 2018 was the second warmest year on record, and four of the past six years were in the top five warmest.

RNZ:  2018 climate continues ‘alarming trend’ – NIWA

Temperatures in 2018 continued to hit record highs, with scientists calling the year a continuation of an “alarming trend”.

January was a record high, but for the year it wasn’t a record.

The year as a whole was the second-equal warmest on record, along with 1998.

The average temperature was 13.41C, not quite reaching the high set in 2016 with an average of 13.45C.

NIWA principal scientist Chris Brandolino said four of the past six years were now in the top five of warmest ever recorded, which was extremely concerning.

“[The year of] 2016 was the warmest, 2017 was the 5th warmest. This year equal-second warmest and I think 2015 was the third warmest,” Mr Brandolino said.

“So four out of the past six years we’ve finished top five and unfortunately part of a long-term and alarming trend.”

Mr Brandolino said there were 49 locations which reached record or near record temperatures around the country.

Mr Brandolino said the warm weather was due to three main components – sea surface temperatures, air flow from tropic and sub-tropic areas and an increase in greenhouse gasses.

“The increases in greenhouses that we continue to see is warming in the background,” he said.

“In other words, we are seeing a long-term tailwind of temperatures. Our changing climate is acting as a long-term tailwind for high temperatures.”

@NIWAWeather:

January 2018 was New Zealand’s warmest month on record, recording a remarkable 3.1˚C above average.

The rest of 2018:

  •   6 months saw above average temps.
  •   6 months saw near average temps.
  •   0 months saw below average temps.

♨️ 49 locations observed record or near-record high mean temperatures.

❄️ 0 locations observed record or near-record low mean temperatures.

For minimum temperatures, 2018 was the warmest on record at +0.94˚C above average in New Zealand. Research has shown that historical warming rates have been larger for overnight minimum temperatures compared with daytime maximum temperatures.

This is a bit misleading stating ‘warmest year on record’:

Hottest summer on record

NIWA reports that New Zealand’s 2017-18 summer has been the hottest on record.

2017-18: Kiwi Summer for the Record Books

Standout stats:

  • The hottest summer on record by 0.3°C.
  • Hottest summer on record at 54 weather stations
  • The had seas up to 6°C above average.
  • Alexandra reached 38.7°C on 30 Jan, NZ’s hottest Jan temp in 39 yrs.
  • Cromwell had 56 days over 25°C
  • Above normal amount of ex-tropical cyclones (2).

Our summer was shaping up as a very dry one too, until the ex-tropical cyclones brought in some heavy rains.

Apart from noticeably nice weather in Dunedin there have also been significantly different growing patterns, with things like tomatoes and grapes doing much better than usual.

Note that this is a weather record for three months, but it inevitable raises questions about how the climate could be changing overall. Unseasonably warm weather in the Arctic Circle, which pushed cold air down onto the US and Europe, have also been unusual.

Cyclone Gita warning – “highly impactful” likely in NZ

Metservice Severe Weather Outlook

Cyclone Gita is expected to approach New Zealand from the northwest early next week.There remains uncertainty with regards to the speed and track of Gita, but the passage of this system across New Zealand on Tuesday and Wednesday is likely to bring a period of highly impactful severe weather.

There is high confidence of severe gales and heavy rain spreading across central and northern New Zealand on Tuesday and Wednesday.

In addition, winds associated with Gita are likely to cause large waves to affect some coastal places, and the expected storm surge allow run-up of waves in some low-lying coastal places, particularly at high tide.

map showing severe weather outlook

NZ Herald – Cyclone Gita: MetService warns ‘it’s best to prepare’

MetService is urging people to prepare for Cyclone Gita as it makes its way to New Zealand.

Risk areas are yet to be identified- they will be earmarked closer to Gita’s arrival – but MetService says the tropical cyclone is likely to bring with it “highly impactful severe weather”.

WeatherWatch has advised people to postpone any non essential outdoors activities on Tuesday and Wednesday, especially hikers and trampers.

People are asked to check their emergency kits are up to date with enough food, water, batteries and cellphone chargers.

Gutters should be cleared in preparation and pets should be provided for too.

NIWA meteorologist Chris Brandolino said it would be a fast-moving ex-tropical cyclone.

“New Zealand looks like it will get an impact, but the question remains over whether it will be more of a central North Island event, or is it going to be more of an upper South Island kind of event.

“The more reliable models are pegging the Kāpiti Coast up to the Taranaki region, east to southern Hawke’s Bay and down to the Wairarapa but that doesn’t exclude other areas”.

Cyclocane: Gita Tracker

NZ Herald: Everything you need to know about Cyclone Gita including how it might affect NZ

 

2016 warmest on record in NZ

NIWA has released it’s Annual Climate Summary 2016  which shows that the New Zealand climate in 2016 was the warmest on record.

Annual temperatures were above average (0.51°C to 1.20°C above the annual average) throughout the country, with very few locations observing near average temperatures (within 0.5°C of the annual average) or lower.  The year 2016 was the warmest on record for New Zealand, based on NIWA’s seven-station series which begins in 1909.

El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO)

El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO)-positive conditions were present at the beginning of the year, although the strong El Niño event weakened rapidly from February, and ENSO-neutral conditions prevailed by May.

Temperatures

Temperature-wise, 2016 as a whole was above average (0.51°C to 1.20°C above the annual average) throughout the country.

These temperature anomalies were especially high in Northland, Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay, Whanganui, Manawatu, Kapiti Coast, Wellington, West Coast, Otago and Southland.

Near average temperatures (within 0.5°C of the annual average) were observed in only a few locations including parts of Tasman and south Otago, Timaru and Oamaru.

No locations observed below average temperatures (0.51°C to 1.20°C below the annual average).

The first seven months of the year from January to July were remarkably warm, with the nation-wide average temperature higher than average for each month, respectively.

The three warmest months in 2016 in terms of the seven-station temperature series were February (2.2°C above average), May (2.1°C above average) and June (1.6°C above average).  Notably, these months were New Zealand’s warmest May, second-warmest February and third-warmest June on record.

August (0.5°C below average) and December (0.3°C below average) were the only two months in 2016 when New Zealand’s nation-wide average temperature was cooler than average.

The nation-wide average temperature for 2016 was 13.4°C (0.8°C above the 1981–2010 annual average), using NIWA’s seven-station temperature series which begins in 1909.  2016 was the warmest year since 1909, based on this seven-station series, and surpassed New Zealand’s previous warmest year on record which occurred in 1998.

This shows that most of the record warmth was February to June.

nz2016monthlytemperatures

Download the 2016 New Zealand Annual Climate Summary [PDF 1.66MB]

Record warm half year

It has been a noticeably mild summer, autumn and now start of the winter.

Here in Dunedin plants are budding and flowering unseasonally, there has been a distinct lack of cold southerly weather patterns, and there have been only a small number of mild frosts. Yesterday morning dawned clear and calm but with no frost, which was remarkable for the end of June.

And what is being observed and felt is backed up by the numbers. NIWA says that the first half of 2016 will easily be the warmest on record in New Zealand.

RNZ: NZ feeling the heat as 2016 shapes up to be record-breaker

Scientists are warning New Zealand’s record-breaking temperatures are causing a surge in the numbers of agricultural pests and , ongoing drought, with predictions the problem is set to get worse.

Findings by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) show the first half of 2016 is shaping up to be the warmest since records began in 1909.

NIWA’s findings show every month of the year to June was at least half a degree more than the average from 1981 to 2010.

NIWA forecaster Chris Brandolino said if the mild conditions continued until the end of June, temperatures for the last six months would end up at above 1.3°C degrees above average, making it the warmest first six months of the year on record.

The months of March, April and May were the second warmest autumn on record, and May the warmest May ever.

NIWA said greenhouse gases, an increase in warm northerly winds and warmer sea surface temperatures were the reasons for the record temperatures.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) September 2013 report found that “as temperatures increase, so do risks of serious and irreversible damage”.

Individually we may enjoy it – personally I don’t mind the warmer weather – but it is raising concerns about the overall effect of climate change and the speed with which our planet appears to be warming up.

NASATemperatureIndex

NASA Global Climate Change

This graph illustrates the change in global surface temperature relative to 1951-1980 average temperatures. The 10 warmest years in the 134-year record all have occurred since 2000, with the exception of 1998. The year 2015 ranks as the warmest on record. (Source: NASA/GISS). This research is broadly consistent with similar constructions prepared by the Climatic Research Unit and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

When most of the world’s climate scientists, and most of the climate models, and most of the climate data, and our own experiences all correlate then it’s getting more difficult to deny we have change, and the rate of change is potentially alarming.

More volatile weather good for grizzlers

Stuff reports – Volatile weather ‘the new normal’.

Get used to it. That “once in 20 years” freak storm is forecast to happen again sooner than you think.

Experts say the wild weather of recent months – heavy snowstorms and flooding in the South Island, and stormy winds in Wellington – is the new normal, and the country needs to prepare for more temperamental weather as the climate warms.

Based on median predictions for temperature increases over the next century, New Zealand’s climate will get drier in some regions, wetter in others, and higher winds and more cyclones will occur, Niwa says.

Extreme winds are likely to increase across New Zealand in winter and decrease in summer, especially for the Wellington region and the eastern South Island.

In many parts of the North Island and the eastern parts of the South Island longer droughts are expected.

“We might expect to see, not every year, but on average another couple of weeks of drought each year,” said David Wratt, Niwa chief scientist.

Wratt warned the wisest thing to do for New Zealand was to was “plan accordingly”.

This should be popular – grizzling about the weather is a major national pastime.