Weather and Wildfire


Dr Sally Potter

Programme Co-Leader

GNS Science


Dr Richard Turner

Programme Co-Leader





Improving Aotearoa New Zealand’s resilience to high impact weather and wildfire

High impact weather, including heavy rain, heavy snow and strong winds plus associated risks such as wildfire, flooding and landslides, has significant adverse impacts on Aotearoa New Zealand. To enhance resilience to these extreme events, our multidisciplinary research in conjunction with stakeholders and Māori partners, will create new fine-scaled physical datasets of extreme weather, and a more comprehensive and collective understanding of the impacts on communities, infrastructure and economic activity. Our research will also investigate practical, cost effective and socially acceptable mitigation methods, leading to enhanced national resilience.




Hazard modelling

We will create hazard models of extreme weather events over time and space scales not previously available in New Zealand.


Extreme scenarios

We will use three extreme scenarios (ex-tropical cyclone, wildfire, extreme winter storm) to quantify the multi-component affects (wind, flood, snow, landslide, rural fire, etc) on infrastructure, buildings and communities.


Hazard mitigation

We will develop more effective weather hazard mitigation, including communication strategies, via in-depth case-study research on risk perception and warning behaviours.


Why impacts should be the focus of hazardous weather warnings

Dr Sally Potter says the way we communicate risk from severe weather events is lagging behind our ability to forecast them. In a recent article in The Conversation, Dr Potter advocates for impact-based forecasts, which focus on the level of damage expected from an impending storm, such as slips or power cuts.

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Weather & Wildfire newsletter: September 2020

Image credit: Ian Boutle

Catch up on the latest news and research from the Weather and Wildfire team, in our inaugural newsletter! With research spotlights on meteorological modelling for an ex-tropical cyclone hitting Auckland, and wildfire in the south.



Q&A with Dr Richard Turner

Meet Dr Richard Turner of NIWA who co-leads our Weather and Wildfire programme. Richard has been a meteorologist at NIWA for nearly 25 years, specialising in modelling of wind and its impacts.



Student profile: Sara Harrison

Sara hails from Ontario, Canada and severe weather has always impacted her life. Now she is embarking on her PhD, carrying out research to contribute to a fairly new type of weather warning system: impact-based forecasts and warnings.

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Q&A with Dr Sally Potter

We talk to Dr Sally Potter of GNS Science, who co-leads our Weather and Wildfire programme. We find out how Sally came to specialise in hazard warnings, and about an award-winning project looking at aftershock warnings.

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