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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, May 6) – A U.S. climate scientist says global warming is contributing to an increase in rain over parts of the Pacific region.

Gabriel Vecchi from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration says global warming is weakening the vast system of air currents that fuel Pacific trade winds, creating more El Nino-like weather patterns.

Mr Vecchi says countries like Kiribati and the Marshall Islands stand to experience more rain from the pattern.

He says the wind system brings moisture collected from the Pacific Ocean from east to west where it precipitates as it rises.

"The amount of moisture that that wind can hold under global warming increases very rapidly. Meanwhile, the amount of rainfall that can occur in the globe is constrained by other physics to increase much more slowly. So because each parcel of air has more moisture in it, to balance a smaller increase in rainfall, you have to actually slow down the winds."

The slowdown in ocean currents is also expected to cut down on ocean circulation that brings nutrients to the surface for marine life to feed on, which could have an impact on fishing in the Pacific.

May 8, 2006

Radio New Zealand International:

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