NZ climate change model shows risks for Pacific hospitals

A new University of Auckland project aims to ensure hospitals in Pacific Island countries are more aware of risks they face from cyclones and other extreme weather.

The risks faced by various hospitals in Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Kiribati and Tonga are being modelled to show what threats they could expect up to the end of this century.

The project leader, climate scientist Dr Michelle McCrystall, said most of the current models cannot show the impact of extreme weather on such facilities in enough detail.

“It is first of all to show what hospitals are most at risk from different weather systems and tropical cyclones and other extreme events, such as extreme precipitation and extreme heat as well,” McCrystall said.

“We are looking a little bit into this, but it aims to show which hospitals are most at risk from tropical cyclones in the future, and the associated impacts of that, whether it be wind and rain.”

She said the same modeling can also be used to show where more suitable sites are.

“Based on the data we have we could also run it to look at other latitudes and longitudes across islands to see which would be the next best place in which hospitals could be relocated.

“It’s not something we’re doing directly, but we have the capability of doing that,” she said.

McCrystall said they want this modelling, which is being done in conjunction with the Pacific Community (SPC), to help countries with their future planning.

Dr Michelle McCrystall

“We work directly with people at SPC and they have links with health facilities and health clinics all across the islands in the South Pacific. So, we’ve got data from them and then we’re also using global climate models, high resolution global climate models, to pinpoint the different latitude and longitudes of the hospital sites.

She said they were trying to take this a step further.

“We’re creating our own model to look at tropical cyclones and to look at the sort of the variability of risk between now, sort of mid-century, into the end of the century and look at the different range of impacts that will happen based on the change and how tropical cyclones might change in the future,” she added.

The modelling project is funded with a grant of US$139,000 from a global non-profit organisation, Climate Change AI.

The findings of the one-year project, which wraps up at the end of the yeay, will be made available online.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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