Our atmosphere and climate 2020 continues the second cycle of domain reporting. It updates Environment Aotearoa 2019 and Our atmosphere and climate 2017 by presenting new data and insights.

Dark grey clouds above a wide landscape of houses and trees.
Dark clouds over the Auckland suburbs of Ellerslie and Panmure.

Image: Sky View Photography

About Our atmosphere and climate 2020

Reporting under the Environmental Reporting Act 2015

Under the Environmental Reporting Act 2015 (the Act), the Secretary for the Environment and the Government Statistician must produce regular reports on the state of our environment.

Under the Act, a report on a domain (marine, freshwater, land, air, and atmosphere and climate) must be produced every 6 months and a whole-of-environment (or synthesis) report every 3 years. Each domain report has now been published once (see the Environmental reporting section on the Ministry for the Environment website for the full list). The most recent synthesis report, Environment Aotearoa 2019, was published in April 2019. The previous atmosphere and climate report was Our atmosphere and climate 2017.

As required by the Act, state, pressure, and impact are used to report on the environment. The logic of the framework is that pressures cause changes to the state of the environment and these changes have impacts. The reports describe impacts on ecological integrity, public health, economy, te ao Māori, culture, and recreation to the extent that is possible with the available data.

Suggesting or evaluating any responses to environmental impacts is out of scope under the Act. Therefore, this report does not cover the work that organisations and communities are doing to mitigate the issue. It does provide an update on the most recent data about the state of the atmosphere and climate. The evidence in this report is a basis for an open and informed conversation about what we have, what we are at risk of losing, and where we can make changes. For the first time in the Environmental Reporting series, information about drivers of environmental change and future outlooks are included.

Information for this report comes from many sources

Data, upon which this report is based, came from many sources including Crown research institutes and central government. Further supporting information was provided using a ‘body of evidence’ approach. This is defined as peer reviewed, published literature, and data from reputable sources. This also includes mātauranga Māori and observational tools used to identify changes in an ecosystem.

All the data used in this report, including references to scientific literature, was corroborated and checked for consistency. A panel of independent scientists advised on and reviewed the content of the report.

Supporting information is available

This report is supported by other products that are published by the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ:


We would like to thank the following people and organisations for their invaluable contribution to Our atmosphere and climate 2020 and Environmental indicators Te taiao Aotearoa.

Data providers

We would like to thank the National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) for providing data for this report.

This report includes several passages of knowledge from te ao Māori. We acknowledge the special nature and mana of the mātauranga contained in this report, it is a taonga. ‘Ahakoa he iti he pounamu – although it is small, it is precious.’

Senior science and mātauranga team

We would like to thank the following people and organisations for providing advice and critical review of this report:

  • Dan Hikuroa: University of Auckland
  • Gregor Macara: NIWA
  • James Renwick: Victoria University of Wellington
  • Kathleen Kozyniak: Hawke’s Bay Regional Council
  • Shaun Awatere: Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research.

Technical advisory group

We would like to thank the following people and organisations for providing advice and helping shape this report:

  • Dee Sciascia: Māpuna Consultants
  • Gerald Rys: Ministry for Primary Industries
  • Jocelyn Turnbull: GNS Science
  • Matt McGlone: Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research
  • Peter Kreft: MetService
  • Petra Pearce: NIWA
  • Richard McKenzie: NIWA.

Peer reviewers

  • Darren King: NIWA
  • Kevin Trenberth: University of Auckland and National Center for Atmospheric Research (USA).


All infographics were created by Dumpark Information Design.


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