Joanna Borzecki

Joanna Borzecki


Phone: 022 099 4145
Office: CO531


BSc University of British Columbia (2014)

MSc Candidate in Glaciology

Master thesis


The impact of glacier retreat on water availability in the Waitaki Basin, New Zealand.


Project objectives and description

As our climate changes, water security is becoming more important. In New Zealand, glaciers act as a small but significant water resource and in some regions, their melt contributes to hydroelectric power generation and water storage. The Waitaki basin, located on the southeast side of the Southern Alps, is a prime example of one of these catchments.

The greater Waitaki system is one of the New Zealand’s primary sources of hydroelectricity and water storage and some of country’s largest glaciers are located at its headwaters. Ice melt from these glaciers, along with rainfall and snow melt, contribute to runoff that is used to generate electricity through a series of eight power stations, while six lakes provide water supply for downstream communities. Consequently, the Waitaki catchment is particularly sensitive to climate change as variations in runoff could ultimately impact power generation and reservoir storage levels.

Previous studies have begun to recognise the importance of understanding water resources in the Waitaki, though few have explored how specific runoff contributions might change in the future. My aim is to help inform long-term water resource planning by developing an understanding of how climate change will affect runoff in the Waitaki. Specifically, I plan to use climate models and projections of glacier recession to determine how ice melt contributions will vary in the future and what that means for water availability.