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To help with the response, researchers from the centre have developed a map which collates 140 layers of information about the at-risk part of greater South Dunedin, including house ages, demographic details and modelled water ponding under different scenarios.
It was hoped the data would help agencies, including the Dunedin City Council and Otago Regional Council, understand the impact of sea-level rise or flooding in the vulnerable area on residents, community facilities and infrastructure.
Centre director Dr Janet Stephenson said the university would continue to work with both councils on finding solutions to the threat from climate change and it was hoped the data could be used by researchers across the university.
''We have had amazing co-operation with them in developing this,'' Dr Stephenson said.
The data included physical information, such as different area's heights above sea level, and information on the human population taken from the census, including income levels and age.
''Once you have got those overlays, you can start answering questions about who might be worst impacted.''
She emphasised sea-level rise would be ''painful'' for the whole of Dunedin and not just South Dunedin.
Low-level areas, which also included St Kilda, Forbury and St Clair, contained many facilities all Dunedin residents used.
''This is all of Dunedin's problem, not just South Dunedin's problem.''
It was understandable some people in affected areas wanted to deny there was going to be an issue, but the science was settled and sea-level rise was occurring.
''I think what we can be sure of is sea-level rise will occur. Where the science is uncertain is just about how rapidly that might occur.''
Deputy director Dr Caroline Orchiston said the centre had been keen to pursue the work since late 2015, when parliamentary commissioner for the environment Dr Jan Wright pinpointed South Dunedin as New Zealand's most vulnerable urban area to sea-level rise.
''The spatial database is an important step because it brings together information from many different agencies and holds it all in one place,'' Dr Orchiston said.
Summer scholarship student Leigh McKenzie, who put together the maps, said even without detailed analysis interesting things could be seen.
''For example, the biggest area that is less than one metre above sea level is around St Kilda East, but the areas most subject to ponding are mainly around Forbury and St Kilda West.''