SCIENTISTS WARN OF POTENTIAL DROUGHT IN MICRONESIAN ISLANDS

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TOFOL, Federated States of Micronesia (Nov. 19, 2002 - Marianas Variety/PINA Nius Online)---Fix the water catchments and save those watermelon seeds El Niño is coming to a Western Pacific Micronesian island near you.

The warning came from Leroy Heitz, Mark Lander and Shahram Khosrowpanah, from the University of Guam Water and Energy Research Institute of the Western Pacific.

The group held advisory alert meetings with government leaders, public works officials, and water specialists in Kosrae, Yap, Pohnpei, and Chuuk in Federated States of Micronesia.

The meetings were part of the Pacific El Niño Southern Oscillation Application Center’s efforts to explain El Niño.

El Niño is a disruption of the ocean-atmosphere system in the tropical Pacific having important consequences for weather around the globe. Among these consequences are drought in the West Pacific.

The center was formed at the request of the USA-affiliated islands in the Western Pacific. One of its roles is making predictions based on climate research to provide usable information to regional decision-makers for management of their water resources.

The impacts for this year’s El Niño in the Western Pacific - like the 1982-83 and 1997-98 drought-causing events - range from erratic and abnormal weather patterns, to strongly suppressed rainfall.

Tropical Typhoons Chataan, and Faxai that hit Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk, and Yap, and the storms that hit the Marshalls recently are indicators of a major El Niño pattern.

This is usually followed by drought-like conditions a number of months to a year after.

Other indicators have been the sea level and sea temperature changes that have been recorded.

The advisory meetings focused on how impacts of a potential drought could be minimized and prepared for.

Heitz spoke about "rooftop rain catchment concerns," and the "need for good conservation practices for use of catchment water, to increase the number of catchment systems, surface areas, and tank sizes where ever practical."

For additional reports from the Marianas Variety, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/ Marianas Variety.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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