24 Aug 2009

Unusual El Nino patterns will affect Pacific rainfall patterns over the next few months

7:32 pm on 24 August 2009

Weather and climate researchers say the Pacific Region is experiencing unusual El Nino weather patterns, with some Pacific Island nations expected to get higher than expected rainfall, while other regions will be drier.

James Renwick from New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research , or NIWA, says the equatorial Pacific is experiencing unusual El Nino behaviour with the tradewinds are not easing as normal.

"The tradewinds are the winds that blow in the tropics pretty much all the time. They blow from the East to the West. And when we have an El Nino those tradewinds weaken off, and that helps the sea temperature to warm up. What we've seen up to date this year is sea temperatures have warmed up in the East but the tradewinds haven't really weakened."

James Renwick says as a result, Papua New Guinea, Tokelau and the Northern Cook Islands will be drier than normal and above normal rainfall is forecast for Eastern and Western Kiribati.