8 Feb 2011

Climate scientists warn of more Pacific cyclones this season

8:01 pm on 8 February 2011

Climate scientists are warning islands west of Fiji in the Coral Sea and the North Tasman region are at risk of more cyclone activity before the current season finishes at the end of April.

New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research is predicting at least five more cyclones which may affect Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.

So far this season the region has experienced seven tropical cyclones including Cyclone Zaka which passed by Raoul Island on Monday.

A Climate scientist at NIWA, Drew Lorrey says normal or above normal tropical cyclone activity is expected before the end of the season.

"That happens to be the place where you get very, very warm waters. Tropical cyclones like to draw their strength from warm oceanic waters. We've also got a large circulation feature called the South Pacific Convergence Zone. It's where the westerlies essentially meet the easterlies. And it helps to position the formation of the tropical cyclones and actually where they travel into sub-tropical regions."

Drew Lorrey says rainfall is also expected to increase for Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga and Niue before the end of the cyclone season.