New Zealanders have been issued with a stark warning to expect "surprises" by scientists who say they cannot keep up with extreme weather events linked to climate change.
Scientists opened a climate change conference in Wellington yesterday by stating that changes in climate being experienced around the globe were beyond their worst-case scenarios.
The founding director of the Climate Change Research Institute, Martin Manning, said policy-makers needed to stop waiting for scientists to come up with answers about trends for the future, or definite measurements for how much sea levels or temperatures would rise by.
Almost simultaneously, devastating floods battered Sir Lanka, Brazil and Queensland earlier this year. Professor Manning said policy-makers should start getting prepared for greater risks, instead of waiting for the lengthy process of scientists linking events together.
Extreme rainfall around the world had been more than scientists had been predicting from climate models.
"Society needs to take over from science when we're talking about global risk management.
"We can't wait till the scientists understand everything."
People in Canterbury are being warned of more earthquakes and aftershocks for years to come.
The Natural Hazards Manager at GNS Science, Kelvin Berryman, says it is impossible to tell for sure how long the aftershocks will continue.
But he says previous earthquakes, in this country and overseas, have been followed by seismic activity for up to 30 years.
Dr Berryman says while the current sequence of aftershocks will eventually drop off, there is a possibility it could trigger further earthquakes, beginning the cycle again
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