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Understanding cyclone impact is key to recovery

Tutira lake

Scientists from around New Zealand are pitching up to help the Hawke's Bay region understand the impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle on lakes and estuaries.
From this week, scientists from NIWA, GNS Science, Otago University, Victoria University, and Waikato University will arrive to collect samples from cyclone impacted areas.
Hawke's Bay Regional Council Science Manager Anna Madarasz-Smith says, ‘”Our estuaries and lakes receive contaminants from the surrounding catchments, including large amounts of silt, making them vulnerable to poor ecological health.  Understanding how the cyclone has affected these areas, will inform how these areas can recover and is fundamental to supporting the environment back to health.”
NIWA scientists will work with the Regional Council to collect samples from the Ahuriri and Waitangi estuaries.
“These will tell us how the animals that live in the estuarine sediments – such as fish, and bugs – have coped with the recent extreme weather. They provide important food for fish and birds, and keep the sediment and water clean.”
Later in the week scientists from the three universities and GNS will be arriving to conduct research on Lakes Tūtira and Waikōpiro.
Their work will focus on sediment that has deposited in the lake as a result of the cyclone, and will use environmental DNA analysis to look at the impact that this may have on cultural health, taonga species, and communities of microrganisms.
“By understanding the initial impact of the cyclone and expanding our knowledge of the impact of severe storms on our lakes and estuaries, will help guide management strategies to build environmental resilience,” says Ms Madarasz-Smith.

9 May 2023

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