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Indonesia: ''El Nino may endure through next year' JAKARTA - Indonesia may be affected by "moderately intense'' El Nino weather conditions that could last right through next year, parching Southeast Asia's largest economy, the meteorological agency said. Floods may follow. The events, caused by warming of equatorial waters in the Pacific Ocean, occur every two to seven years and shift normal weather patterns worldwide. Authorities would begin cloud- seeding, an official at the agency said at a briefing today.

"We are here to issue warnings,'' Wasito Hadi, director of the meteorological data center at the Meteorological and Geophysics Agency, said. Warmer Pacific temperatures "will bring on a moderately intense El Nino, if conditions persist for three months or more. This could last until the end of 2007.'' Indonesia is the latest country to warn about the likely onset on an El Nino after forecasters in the Philippines, Australia and the U.S. made similar predictions. El Ninos can disrupt agricultural production, and boost commodity prices.

"Based on current indicators, temperatures are 1 degree centigrade to 1.4 degrees centigrade above normal in the Pacific region,'' said Hadi. Indonesia's monsoon season starts around now, helping more than 38 million farmers across the archipelago who plant mainly rice, oil palms, coconut palms, coffee, cocoa, sugar, corn, vegetables and spices. The country is the world's largest palm- oil producer, and the fourth-largest producer of coffee.

Cloud seeding

Authorities will begin cloud seeding in Central Java, the second-most populous province, by the end of the month, Hadi said. The process involves spraying silver iodide particles into clouds to encourage rainfall and reduce the risk of drought. "We need to encourage rain for the dams and for irrigation or there will not be enough,'' he said.

Districts or regencies forecast to experience "below- normal'' rainfall between this month and December, defined as less than 85 percent of the normal amount recorded between 1971 and 2000, now number 141 out of 220 nationwide. That's an increase from an estimated 94 districts that were forecast last month as likely to suffer "below-normal'' rain, according to the agency's data.

Dry season


"Normally, anything below 150 millimeters a year is considered dry,'' he said. "In El Nino, it can be less than 50 millimeters.'' El Nino conditions are usually followed by heavy rains, Hadi said, bringing more hardship as cracked and hardened soil isn't able to absorb sudden rains, thereby causing flooding and severe soil erosion. "It's up to the local governments to act on the information we provide monthly,'' he added.

El Nino, which means "little boy'' in Spanish, got its name from Peruvian fisherman who noticed that warmer sea temperatures reduced their catch around Christmas. It emerges first in Australia and can take months to develop.



Posted in Weather @ 09 November 2006 02:37 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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