El Nino climate pattern to last into 2010: agency

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By AFP

The World Meteorological Organisation said on Wednesday that an El Nino current now in the Pacific Ocean would probably last into 2010, promising unpredictable disruption to weather around the globe.

In June and July, sea surface temperatures in the eastern equatorial Pacific area were about 0.5 to one degree Celsius warmer than usual at this time of the year, the WMO said in an update on the climate pattern.

"The expectation is for El Nino conditions to very likely prevail through the remainder of 2009 and into the first quarter of 2010," it added.

El Nino is an occasional seasonal warming of the central and eastern Pacific Ocean that upsets normal weather patterns from the western seaboard of Latin America to east Africa, and potentially has a global impact on climate.

"El Nino, which is established right now, is associated with weaker monsoons and also weaker cyclone (hurricane) season in the North Atlantic," WMO scientist Rupa Kumar Kolli told journalists.

"We are already aware that South Asia is under a grip of an intense drought because of the very weak monsoon actuivity," he added.

In the past, El Nino has also been associated with drought in Australia and Indonesia, storms in the western Pacific islands, and extremely heavy rainfall in East Africa, at different times of the year.

However, while its impact on winds and rainfall in the more immediate region around the Pacific coasts of Latin America and Asia is better known, scientists say its broader impact is less easy to judge.

Kolli pointed to the size of the Pacific as the largest ocean basin on the planet, where El Nino produced "large scale atmospheric patterns."

That would in turn produce "significant regional climate impacts ... around the world," he added.

However, Kolli cautioned that those more distant effects also depended on other local climatic conditions.

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