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  • Evidence shows that sea levels are rising – but how do scientists gather this evidence? After all, the sea level changes daily due to tides, waves and the weather. This article explains how scientists use tide gauges and satellites to look at data over long periods of time. It also explains some of the implications of sea level rise.

    Rights: Ian Britton, CC BY-NC 2.0

    Storm surge

    When storm surges combine with a high spring tide, the resulting waves can overtop the coastline. This causes flooding by seawater.

    The importance of evidence

    Climate change is one of the world’s big issues. To understand how the climate is changing and to understand how human actions have contributed, scientists gather and interpret data as evidence. The article provides a number of great images that show the impacts of climate change and sea level rise. There is also a diagram that maps the changes in sea level in New Zealand and provides students with the opportunity to develop the science capability ‘Interpret representations’.

    Teacher support material

    Check your school resource area for the article from the 2014 Level 3 Connected journal ‘Why is that?’, download it as a Google slide presentation from Tāhūrangi or order it from the Ministry of Education. The slide presentation contains multimedia that supports the article, including a video on how tide gauges work.

    Rights: Crown copyright 2014

    2014 Connected level 3: Why is that?

    The cover of the 2014 level 3 Connected journal ‘Why is that?’ published by the Ministry of Education, New Zealand. This issue includes the articles Rising seas, Counting kākahi and The tsunami that washed time away.

    Background photograph 'Restore the Shore' by Hypnotica Studios Infinite, licensed under CC BY 2.0.

    The teacher support material (TSM) can be downloaded from Tāhūrangi. (Look for Word and PDF icons under the article abstract.) The material lists the key science and nature of science (NoS) ideas featured in the article. The notes provide explicit NoS links to sections of text. There are also four activities that support students to explore climate change issues and take action.

    Related content

    Rising sea levels is one of the threats facing island nations like Sāmoa. The Connected article Building for the future explores how cultural and scientific knowledge are being used to build a safer future for the local people. The article is supported by Science and partnership with a Sāmoan village, a ready-to-use cross-curricular teaching resource.

    Climate change resources – planning pathways provides pedagogical advice and curriculum links to help educators with their planning. It includes an interactive that groups Hubs resources according to key teaching topics – with sections devoted to sea level rise and evidence.

    We’ve created a climate change collection – annotated resources to unpack the science of climate change and associated socio-scientific issues. Log in to make this collection part of your private collection – just click on the copy icon. You can then add additional content, notes and make other changes. Registering an account for the Science Learning Hub is easy and free – sign up with your email address or Google account. Look for the ‘Sign in’ button at the top of each page.

    Check out our entire range of Connected articles here. We’ve curated them by topic and concepts.

    Useful links

    This Radio NZ article and interview from May 2020 looks at how scientists belive that a small amount of sea level rise could have big consequences for some low-lying parts of New Zealand.

    The NZ SeaRise: Te Tai Pari O Aotearoa programme has released location specific sea level rise projections out to the year 2300 for every 2 km of the coast of Aotearoa New Zealand. This very informative site includes maps (you can find the possible impact on your local area) and there are resources such as posters and videos.

    See NIWA’s Sea levels and sea-level rise it has lots of information including: how sea levels are measured, what is contributing to rising sea levels, future rise projections and why we should worry.

    The Connected journals can be ordered from the Down the Back of the Chair website. Access to these resources is restricted to Ministry-approved education providers. To find out if you are eligible for a login or if you have forgotten your login details, contact their customer services team on 0800 660 662 or email


    The Connected series is published annually by the Ministry of Education, New Zealand.

      Published 23 July 2019 Referencing Hub articles
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