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Experts Say El Nino Will Last Into 2010

August 20, 2009

On Wednesday, the World Meteorological Organization said that an El Nino current now in the Pacific Ocean would last until 2010, promising unpredictable disruption in weather patterns around the world.

The WMO said that in June and July, sea surface temperatures in the eastern equatorial Pacific area were about 0.5 to one degree Celsius warmer than usual at this time of the year.

“The expectation is for El Nino conditions to very likely prevail through the remainder of 2009 and into the first quarter of 2010,” it added.

El Nino is an occasional seasonal warming of the central and eastern Pacific Ocean that upsets normal weather patterns throughout the western seaboard of Latin America to east Africa.  The phenomenon has a global impact on climate.

“El Nino, which is established right now, is associated with weaker monsoons and also weaker cyclone (hurricane) season in the North Atlantic,” WMO scientist Rupa Kumar Kolli told journalists.

“We are already aware that South Asia is under a grip of an intense drought because of the very weak monsoon activity,” he added.

El Nino has been associated with drought in Australia and Indonesia in the past, along with storms in the western Pacific islands and extreme rainfalls in East Africa throughout the year.

Its impact on winds and rainfall in the more immediate region around the Pacific coasts of Latin America and Asia is well known.  However, scientists say its broader impact is less easy to judge.

Kolli said the Pacific, which is the largest ocean basin on earth, produced “large scale atmospheric patterns.”

He added that it would in turn produce “significant regional climate impacts around the world,” he added.

Kolli did caution that those more distant effects also depend on other local climatic conditions as well.

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