16 Aug 2012

Climate change will see extreme floods and droughts in Pacific - study

12:04 pm on 16 August 2012

An international study has found that climate change will lead to more extreme floods and droughts in the South Pacific.

The study, led by CSIRO oceanographer Dr Wenju Cai, examined the movement of the South Pacific rain band, which spans the Pacific from south of the equator southeast to French Polynesia and can move north up to 1000 kilometres towards the equator.

It found the frequency of this movement will almost double in the next 100 years, with rain intensifying at a corresponding rate.

In a statement, the CSIRO said Pacific countries will experience more extreme floods and droughts, in response to increasing greenhouse gas emissions

The study also found greenhouse gases are projected to enhance equatorial Pacific warming, which will lead to increased frequency of extreme excursions of the rain band.

Dr Cai says this shift brings more severe extremes, including cyclones to regions such as French Polynesia that are not accustomed to such events.

The study found during moderate El Nino events the rain band moves northeastward by 300 kilometres and countries located in its normal position, such as Vanuatu, experience forest fires and droughts and increased tropical cyclones.