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February 26, 2018 | by  | in News |
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Ex-Cyclone Coincides with Climate Change Conference

Cyclone Gita struck the Pacific last week, devastating areas in Tonga and Samoa. Fortunately, Gita was downgraded to an ex-tropical cyclone before reaching New Zealand last Tuesday morning.

Gita’s landfall the day before the Pacific Climate Change Conference in Wellington acted as a timely  reminder of the more volatile weather events climate change will induce.

The Australian Climate Council says climate change is likely to affect tropical cyclones in two ways. Fewer cyclones will form as surface and atmospheric temperatures increase. However, those cyclones which do form will be more intense due to higher ocean surface temperatures. The Climate Council has noted that there is a lack of long-term consistent data on the frequency and trends of tropical cyclones.

The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) describes human induced climate change as one of the “widest-reaching hazards facing New Zealand”. NIWA scientist Chris Brandolino has also predicted decreasing frequency but increasing intensity of future cyclones, in line with the Climate Council’s findings. The Pacific region in particular is expected to be affected by the greater economic and environmental damage caused by more intense cyclones.

The Pacific Climate Change Conference brings together a range of voices on climate change, from the scientific to the policy-based. Representatives from nations across the Pacific will also be present to report on national steps to reduce climate change inducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The Honourable Tuila‘epa Dr Sa‘ilele Malielegaoi acknowledged at the Climate Change Conference the importance of Pacific Island collaboration on climate change.

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