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Climate change is a ‘risk multiplier’ not a separate threat.
Just as a ‘1 in 100 year flood’ may happen tomorrow, discussions about climate change that include the phrase ‘will happen by 2050’ do not mean changes will wait until December 31, 2049. Weather is already intensifying, sea levels have been rising throughout most of the twentieth century and the pace is accelerating, and ocean acidification is already affecting marine ecosystems, with implications for winter food for many braided river birds.
Changes currently underway are ‘locked in’ because of past greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). Regardless of the future actions to reduce GHG emissions, these changes will continue. If GHS emissions continue along current trends, the changes that are now happening will intensify.
These changes are not reversible in time frames of less than multiple thousands of years.
For Canterbury braided rivers and their ecosystems, the ‘risk multipliers’ are:
Click on the above to understand how these changes are threats to braided rivers and their unique ecologies.