BY GRACE AUKA SALMANG
Papua New Guinea must prepare for a potential El Nino weather phenomena in August, which could bring drier than normal conditions, the National Disaster Centre warned yesterday.
National Disaster Centre acting director Martin Mose said preparations on this potential El Nino should not be taken lightly.
“We have all witnessed the events of various El Nino’s in the past, and currently we can see and feel that during the day time, it is much warmer and there are cooler and colder nights.
“In 2015 and 2016, more than 2.4 million Papua New Guineans were affected by El Nino, where almost 400,000 people faced food insecurity,” he said.
Mr Mose said aside from food insecurity and malnutrition, the 2015 El Nino induced drought also created a number of other critical needs including water shortages, lack of proper sanitation and increased incidences of communicable diseases.
“The shortage of water led to the closure of many schools and the economic impact of that phenomenon was estimated to be widespread, affecting small to medium size businesses as well as bigger industries such as mining and agriculture,” he said.
National Weather Service assistant director forecasting and warning centre Jimmy Gomoga said that the World Meteorological Organisation had, since March, reported a 50 percent likelihood of a return to El Nino in the second half of 2017.
“When moving into El Nino, scientist are monitoring the Central Pacific where there is an increase in the temperature.
“Some of the El Nino impacts on the weather parametres are that, when the Central Pacific experiences warmer temperature, reduced rainfall in the Western Pacific where the temperatures become cooler, drought conditions experienced, and there is delay on the onset of the monsoon with also reduced number of tropical cyclones,” he said.
He said the temperature was warmer due to the reduced cloud cover, where the sun’s energy comes right through, therefore, during the daytime, it is much warmer and at night, it is very cold.
“For the highlands, there will be colder nights with extremely increased frost hazards,” he said.
Mr Mose was pleased that PNG has adopted a systematic approach to planning for the actions.
“It is important that we start with technical inputs from experts as such from National Weather Service, Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System (RIMES), to share with us the likely climate impacts and location of the likely impacts on analysis of the historical climate data.