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Ocean data points to strong El Nino: Climate scientist

Published on May 5, 2014 3:27 PM

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - A spike in Pacific Ocean sea temperatures and the rapid movement of warm water eastwards have increased concerns that an El Nino weather pattern this year could be one of the strongest in several decades, an Australian climate scientist said.

El Nino - a warming of sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific - affects wind patterns and can trigger both floods and drought in different parts of the globe, curbing food supply.

A majority of weather forecasting models indicate that an El Nino may develop around the middle of the year, but it was too early to assess its likely strength, the U.N. World Meteorological Organization said on April 15.

Dr Wenju Cai, a climate expert at Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, said rises in Pacific Ocean temperature above those seen in previous El Nino years and the quick movement of warm water eastwards had raised fears of a significant event.

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