30 Nov 2004

Predictions that more intense cyclones will hit Pacific Islands this season

2:54 pm on 30 November 2004

There are predictions that Pacific Island countries will face more intense cyclones this season.

And, there is a greater risk of cyclones occurring for countries about, and east of the dateline.

Dr Jim Salinger, a principal scientist for New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, says a combination of factors, including a quasi weak El Nino state and warmer waters near the dateline, have led to them issuing this prediction.

He says these countries could face a season similar to the one that struck the Caribbean where there were a series of devastating cyclones with hurricane status winds.

"The climate modelling and the science is pretty clear that what tropical cyclones that do occur will be more intense because the waters they're going over is warmer and that provides them with moisture, and the moisture and the warmth provides them the energy with which to spin up on."

Dr Salinger says the countries facing the greater risk are Fiji, Wallis and Futuna, Niue, the southern Cooks, possibly Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Tokelau, Samoa, Tonga and the Austral islands of French Polynesia.