Thursday, September 24, 2009

El Nino shift could boost hurricanes, droughts: study

Agence France-Presse: Global warming periodically shifts El Nino thousands of miles to the west, potentially intensifying Asian droughts and weakening its dampening effect on Atlantic hurricanes, reports a study published Thursday. Up to now, the tropical weather phenomenon, which strikes on average every four or five years, has generally occurred along a wide stretch of the equator in the eastern Pacific.

…But climate change has apparently given rise to an alternate form of El Nino that is likely to become more frequent over the coming decades, according to the new research, published in Nature. "There are two El Ninos," said Ben Kirtman, a professor at the University of Miami and a co-author of the study. "In addition to the eastern Pacific El Nino ... a second El Nino in the central Pacific is on the increase," he said in a communique. The two do not occur at the same time, he added.

…In Asia, it could intensify droughts that have already wreaked havoc in recent decades. And in the Atlantic, it could weaken the positive effect it has had up to now in mitigating the intensity of hurricanes that strike the Caribbean and the US east coast….

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