14 May 2012

Indications Pacific cyclones decreasing in number but getting more severe

2:58 pm on 14 May 2012

A principal climate scientist at New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research says it appears that tropical cyclones are decreasing in number but gaining in intensity.

In a typical Pacific cyclone season between November and May there are usually eight to 10 named storms.

In the season just ended there were five named storms but only three, Cyril, Jasmine and Daphne, became cyclones that posed and threat to Pacific Island countries.

Dr James Renwick says although of those storms only Jasmine caused any major damage, research suggests that in general, cyclones may be getting stronger.

"But the overall numbers if anything appear to be on the way down or certainly not going up. So there are fairly inconclusive indications at this stage that we might see a reduction in the total number of tropical cyclones in the future but the ones that happen could well be stronger."

Dr James Renwick says there have been quieter cyclone seasons than the 2011-2012 season but it's at the lower end of the range.