7 Sep 2015

Climate forecast offers no relief for El Niño-hit areas

6:47 am on 7 September 2015

New Zealand's Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research predicts that much of the region will continue to experience below normal rainfall for the rest of the year.

The Island Climate Update says a severe El Niño is likely to strengthen its grip which is bad news for many areas already struggling with droughts and frost.

Tonga, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Fiji are already reeling from months of below-normal rainfall, while in Papua New Guinea, disaster authorities in the Highlands fear there could a major humanitarian emergency as droughts and frosts continue to wipe out food gardens.

NIWA's latest Island Climate Update offers no relief, with forecasters predicting below to well-below normal rainfall patterns to continue for Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, Niue and New Caledonia for at least the next three months.

It also says sea surface temperatures are likely to continue to increase, which will add to the severity of an El Niño already forecast to be one of the worst in 20 years.

Meanwhile, above normal rainfall is forecast for Tuvalu, Kiribati, Pitcairn Island and Tuvalu.