Sunday, 22 May 2011

Rainfall patterns changing in the Pacific

07 April 2011 – PACNEWS By Pita Ligaiula in Cairns Australia

Scientific research has found that rainfall patterns in most Pacific Island countries are changing rapidly due to climate change.

That’s the findings presented by Fiji Meteorology’s Senior Scientific Officer, Ravind Kumar at the Science of Climate Change - Greenhouse 2011 Conference in Cairns, Australia.

“The main finding shows that rainfall pattern has shown signs of changing, especially with EL NINO events becoming more frequent.

In contrast, LA NINA event is normally wetter than normal conditions in many Pacific Island countries, which has a severe consequence of flooding and agriculture subsistence farming, Kumar told PACNEWS.

Kumar said his research also found that frequency of tropical cyclone increased in the past two decade.

“The other finding is that the climate has actually shifted somewhere around 1970s. Prior to 1970s, the conditions were much wetter, dominated by LA NINA events but after 1980s, the weather has been affected by EL NINO and conditions much drier.

“This has a profound consequence in our countries which will see most of our activities carefully designed or undertaken so that the opportunities we have with this changes are maximized,” said Kumar.

Kumar said changes in rainfall patterns due to EL NINO and LA NINA also affected agriculture in island nations including Fiji.

“Agriculture neither needs too much or too little rain which means we have to be smart in our farming practices and apply new technology that is available.

“When we look at the South West Pacific on a time scale of 10 – 30 years, climate has shown signs of changing and this is not limited to any Pacific Island countries. Fiji has undergone some climate variability where we have seen more extreme events such as droughts of 1998, floods of 2009,” Kumar explained.

Kumar said scientific research presented at the Cairns conference should promote understanding on how climate change is affecting the Pacific.

“This is a very important meeting for Pacific Island countries because the understanding of climate change science in the Pacific is very little. We are just beginning to understand our complex climate systems. This meeting gives us an opportunity to better understand changes in the climate and how we can manage climate risks in the face of warmer and changing climate.

“Science in uncovering the effects of changes in climate and it is advisable that people take heed of what the scientific community is telling us.

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