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Transcript
Penrhyn
Pukapuka
Nassau
Suwarrow
No
rth
e
Sout
rn
Co
hern
Palmerston
ok
Co
Is
ok
nd
s
Rakahanga
Manihiki
la
Is
Aitutaki
la
nd
s
Manuae
Mitiaro
Takutea
Atiu
Mauke
South Pacific Ocean
Avarua
Rarotonga
Mangaia
Current and future climate of the
Cook Islands
> Cook Islands Meteorological Service
> Australian Bureau of Meteorology
> Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
Current climate of the Cook Islands
Jul
Oct
35
400
300
200
30
100
0
Temperature (ºC)
25
20
15
300
200
100
0
Apr
Sea surface temperature
Rarotonga, Cook Islands,159.80ºW, 21.20ºS
Monthly rainfall (mm)
30
25
15
20
Temperature (ºC)
Penrhyn, Cook Islands,158.05ºW, 9.03ºS
Jan
Minimum temperature
Average temperature
35
Maximum temperature
Jan
Apr
Jul
Figure 1: Seasonal rainfall and temperature at Penrhyn (in the north) and Rarotonga (in the south).
2
400
from November to May. This is when
the South Pacific Convergence Zone
is most active and furthest south.
From November to March the South
Pacific Convergence Zone is wide and
strong enough for the Northern Group
to also receive significant rainfall. The
driest months of the year in the Cook
Islands are from June to October.
Rainfall in the Cook Islands is
strongly affected by the South Pacific
Convergence Zone. This band of heavy
rainfall is caused by air rising over warm
waters where winds converge, resulting
in thunderstorm activity. It extends
across the South Pacific Ocean from
the Solomon Islands to east of the
Cook Islands (Figure 2). It is centred
close to or over the Southern Group
The Cook Islands’ climate varies
considerably from year to year due to
the El Niño-Southern Oscillation. This
is a natural climate pattern that occurs
across the tropical Pacific Ocean and
affects weather around the world.
There are two extreme phases of the
El Niño-Southern Oscillation: El Niño
and La Niña. There is also a neutral
phase. The El Niño-Southern Oscillation
has opposite effects on the Northern
and Southern Groups. In Rarotonga,
El Niño events tend to bring drier and
cooler conditions than normal, while in
the north El Niño usually brings wetter
conditions. Ocean temperatures warm
in the north during an El Niño event so
air temperatures also warm.
Oct
Monthly rainfall (mm)
Seasonal temperatures differ between the northern and southern Cook
Islands. The Northern Cook Islands’ (Northern Group) position so close to the
equator results in fairly constant temperatures throughout the year, while in
the Southern Cook Islands (Southern Group) temperatures cool off during the
dry season (May to October, Figure 1). Changes in temperatures are strongly
tied to changes in the surrounding ocean temperature. The annual average
temperature at Penrhyn in the Northern Group is 28°C and at Rarotonga in the
Southern Group is 24.5°C.
Federated States of Micronesia
I n t e r t r o p i c a l
20oN
Z o n e
C o n v e r g e n c e
Kiribati
Vanuatu
Tuvalu
Pa
cif
ic
Fiji
Northern
Co
Cook Islands
nve
Samoa
rge
nc
e
Niue
Tonga
500
Southern
Cook Islands
Zo
ne
1,000
2,000
160oW
0
170oW
180o
170oE
160oE
150oE
140oE
130oE
120oE
H
110oE
10oS
So
ut
h
Solomon Islands
Papua New Guinea
M o
n
East Timor s o o n
0o
Tr a d e W i n d s
1,500
20oS
l
Kilometres
30oS
poo
Nauru
140oW
Wa r m
Marshall Islands
150oW
Palau
10oN
H
No. of tropical cyclones
Figure 2: The average positions of the major climate features in November to April. The arrows show near surface winds,
the blue shading represents the bands of rainfall convergence zones, the dashed oval shows the West Pacific Warm Pool
and H represents typical positions of moving high pressure systems.
7
6
Tropical cyclones
11-yr moving average
5
4
3
2
1
19
69
19 /70
71
19 /72
73
19 /74
75
19 /76
77
19 /78
79
19 /80
81
19 /82
83
19 /84
85
19 /86
87
19 /88
89
19 /90
91
19 /92
93
19 /94
95
19 /96
97
19 /98
99
20 /00
01
20 /02
03
20 /04
05
20 /06
07
20 /08
09
/1
0
0
Figure 3: Number of tropical cyclones passing within 400 km of Rarotonga.
The 11-year moving average is in purple.
Tropical
cyclones
Tropical cyclones affect the Cook
Islands between November
and April. In the 41-year period
between 1969 and 2010, 47
tropical cyclones passed within
400 km of Rarotonga, an average
of just over one cyclone per
season (Figure 3). The number
of cyclones varies widely from
year to year, with none in
some seasons but up to six in
others. Over the period 1969 to
2010, cyclones occurred more
frequently in El Niño years.
3
Changing climate of the Cook Islands
Penrhyn’s annual
rainfall has increased
Annual maximum and minimum
temperatures have increased in both
Rarotonga (Figure 4) and Penrhyn
since 1950. In Rarotonga, maximum
temperatures have increased at a
rate of 0.04°C per decade. These
temperature increases are part of
the global pattern of warming.
Data since 1950 show a clear
increasing trend in annual rainfall at
Penrhyn (Figure 5), but no trend in
seasonal rainfall. There are no clear
trends in annual or seasonal rainfall at
Rarotonga. Over this period, there has
been substantial variation in rainfall
from year to year at both sites.
Average Temperature (ºC)
25.5
El Niño La Niña
25
24.5
24
23.5
23
2005
2000
1995
1990
1985
1980
1975
1970
1965
1960
1955
1950
22.5
Year
5000
4500
4000
3500
3000
2500
2000
1500
1000
500
0
As ocean water warms it expands
causing the sea level to rise. The
melting of glaciers and ice sheets
also contributes to sea-level rise.
Instruments mounted on satellites and
tide gauges are used to measure sea
level. Satellite data indicate the sea
level has risen near the Cook Islands by
about 4 mm per year since 1993. This
is slightly larger than the global average
of 2.8 – 3.6 mm per year. This higher
rate of rise may be partly related to
natural fluctuations that take place year
to year or decade to decade caused
by phenomena such as the El NiñoSouthern Oscillation. This variation in
sea level can be seen in Figure 7 which
includes the tide gauge record since
1977 and the satellite data since 1993.
Ocean acidification
has been increasing
About one quarter of the carbon dioxide
emitted from human activities each year
is absorbed by the oceans. As the extra
carbon dioxide reacts with sea water
it causes the ocean to become slightly
more acidic. This impacts the growth
of corals and organisms that construct
their skeletons from carbonate minerals.
These species are critical to the balance
of tropical reef ecosystems. Data show
that since the 18th century the level
of ocean acidification has been slowly
increasing in the Cook Islands’ waters.
2005
2000
1995
1990
1985
1980
1975
1970
1965
1960
1955
El Niño La Niña
1950
Rainfall (mm)
Figure 4: Annual average temperature for Rarotonga in the Southern
Group. Light blue bars indicate El Niño years, dark blue bars indicate
La Niña years and the grey bars indicate neutral years.
Sea level has risen
National Environment Service,
Government of the Cook Islands
Temperatures
have increased
Year
Figure 5: Annual rainfall for Penrhyn in the Northern Group. Light blue bars
indicate El Niño years, dark blue bars indicate La Niña years and the grey
bars indicate neutral years.
Islet and coral microatolls in Penrhyn.
4
Future climate of the Cook Islands
Climate impacts almost all aspects of life in the Cook Islands. Understanding the possible future
climate of the Cook Islands is important so people and the government can plan for changes.
How do scientists develop climate projections?
There are many different global climate
models and they all represent the
climate slightly differently. Scientists from
the Pacific Climate Change Science
Program (PCCSP) have evaluated 24
models from around the world and found
that 18 best represent the climate of the
western tropical Pacific region. These
18 models have been used to develop
climate projections for the Cook Islands.
The climate projections for the
Cook Islands are based on three
IPCC emissions scenarios: low (B1),
medium (A1B) and high (A2), for time
periods around 2030, 2055 and 2090
(Figure 6). Since individual models
give different results, the projections
are presented as a range of values.
2090
800
2055
2030
1990
700
600
500
400
300
Figure 6: Carbon dioxide (CO2)
concentrations (parts per million, ppm)
associated with three IPCC emissions
scenarios: low emissions (B1 – blue),
medium emissions (A1B – green) and
high emissions (A2 – purple). The
PCCSP has analysed climate model
results for periods centred on 1990,
2030, 2055 and 2090 (shaded).
National Environment Service, Government of the Cook Islands
The future climate will be determined
by a combination of natural and human
factors. As we do not know what the
future holds, we need to consider a
range of possible future conditions,
or scenarios, in climate models. The
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC) developed a series of
plausible scenarios based on a set of
assumptions about future population
changes, economic development and
technological advances. For example,
the A1B (or medium) emissions scenario
envisages global population peaking
mid-century and declining thereafter,
very rapid economic growth, and
rapid introduction of new and more
efficient technologies. Greenhouse
gas and aerosol emissions scenarios
are used in climate modelling to
provide projections that represent
a range of possible futures.
CO2 Concentration (ppm)
Global climate models are the best tools
for understanding future climate change.
Climate models are mathematical
representations of the climate system
that require very powerful computers.
They are based on the laws of physics
and include information about the
atmosphere, ocean, land and ice.
Damage caused by Tropical
Cyclone Pat, February 2010.
Mangaia Beach, Southern Cook Islands.
5
Future climate of the Cook Islands
This is a summary of climate projections for Cook Islands. For further information refer to Volume 2
of Climate Change in the Pacific: Scientific Assessment and New Research, and the web-based
climate projections tool – Pacific Climate Futures (available at www.pacificclimatefutures.net).
Temperatures will
continue to increase
Changing rainfall
patterns
Projections for all emissions scenarios
indicate that the annual average
air temperature and sea surface
temperature will increase in the future
in the Cook Islands (Table 1). By 2030,
under a high emissions scenario, this
increase in temperature is projected
to be in the range of 0.5 – 0.9°C in
the Northern Group and 0.4 –1.0ºC
in the Southern Group.
There is uncertainty around rainfall
projections for the Cook Islands as
model results are not consistent.
However, average annual and
seasonal rainfall is generally projected
to increase over the course of the
21st century. For the Southern
Group average rainfall during the wet
season is expected to increase due
to the projected intensification of the
South Pacific Convergence Zone.
Droughts are projected to become
less frequent throughout this century.
More very hot days
Increases in average temperatures
will also result in a rise in the number
of hot days and warm nights, and
a decline in cooler weather.
More extreme
rainfall days
Less frequent
but more intense
tropical cyclones
On a global scale, the projections
indicate there is likely to be a decrease
in the number of tropical cyclones by
the end of the 21st century. But there is
likely to be an increase in the average
maximum wind speed of cyclones by
between 2% and 11% and an increase
in rainfall intensity of about 20% within
100 km of the cyclone centre.
In the Cook Islands region, projections
tend to show a decrease in the
frequency of tropical cyclones by the
late 21st century and an increase in the
proportion of the more intense storms.
Model projections show extreme rainfall
days are likely to occur more often.
Table 1: Projected annual average air temperature changes for the Cook Islands
for three emissions scenarios and three time periods. Values represent 90% of
the range of the models and changes are relative to the average of the period
1980-1999.
2030
(°C)
2055
(°C)
2090
(°C)
Low emissions scenario
0.2–1.0
0.7–1.5
0.9 –2.1
Medium emissions scenario
0.4 –1.2
0.9 –1.9
1.4–3.0
High emissions scenario
0.5 – 0.9
1.0 –1.8
2.0–3.2
Low emissions scenario
0.2–1.0
0.5–1.5
0.7–1.9
Medium emissions scenario
0.3 –1.1
0.7–1.9
1.2–2.8
High emissions scenario
0.4 –1.0
0.9 –1.7
1.8–3.2
Geoff Mackley
Northern Cook Islands
Southern Cook Islands
6
Rarotonga, Cyclone Meena, 2005.
Sea level is expected to continue
to rise in the Cook Islands (Table 2
and Figure 7). By 2030, under a high
emissions scenario, this rise in sea
level is projected to be in the range of
4-15 cm. The sea-level rise combined
with natural year-to-year changes will
increase the impact of storm surges
and coastal flooding. As there is still
much to learn, particularly how large
ice sheets such as Antarctica and
Greenland contribute to sea-level
rise, scientists warn larger rises than
currently predicted could be possible.
Figure 7: Observed and projected
relative sea-level change near the
Cook Islands. The observed sea-level
records are indicated in dark blue
(relative tide-gauge observations)
and light blue (the satellite record
since 1993). Reconstructed
estimates of sea level near the Cook
Islands (since 1950) are shown
in purple. The projections for the
A1B (medium) emissions scenario
(representing 90% of the range of
models) are shown by the shaded
green region from 1990 to 2100.
The dashed lines are an estimate of
90% of the range of natural yearto-year variability in sea level.
Table 2: Sea-level rise projections for
the Cook Islands for three emissions
scenarios and three time periods.
Values represent 90% of the range of
the models and changes are relative to
the average of the period 1980-1999.
2030
(cm)
Low emissions
scenario
5–15
10 –26 17– 45
Medium emissions
scenario
5 –15
10 – 30 19 –56
High emissions
scenario
4–15
10 –29 19–58
2055
(cm)
2090
(cm)
Ocean acidification
will continue
Under all three emissions scenarios
(low, medium and high) the acidity
level of sea waters in the Cook Islands
region will continue to increase over the
21st century, with the greatest change
under the high emissions scenario.
The impact of increased acidification
on the health of reef ecosystems is
likely to be compounded by other
stressors including coral bleaching,
storm damage and fishing pressure.
90
80
70
60
Sea level relative to 1990 (cm)
Sea level will
continue to rise
Reconstruction
Satellite altimeter
Tide gauges (3)
Projections
50
40
30
20
10
0
−10
−20
−30
1950
2000
Year
2050
2100
7
Changes in the
Cook Islands’ climate
> Temperatures have
warmed and will
continue to warm
with more very hot
days in the future.
> Annual rainfall since 1950 > By the end of this
has increased at Penrhyn
in the Northern Cook
Islands but there are no
clear trends in rainfall
at Rarotonga in the
Southern Cook Islands.
Rainfall patterns are
projected to change over
this century with more
extreme rainfall days and
less frequent droughts.
> Sea level near
century projections
suggest decreasing
numbers of tropical
cyclones but a
possible shift
towards more
intense categories.
the Cook Islands
has risen and
will continue to
rise throughout
this century.
> Ocean acidification
has been increasing
in the Cook Islands’
waters. It will
continue to increase
and threaten coral
reef ecosystems.
The content of this brochure is the result of a collaborative effort between the Cook Islands
Meteorological Service and the Pacific Climate Change Science Program – a component
of the Australian Government’s International Climate Change Adaptation Initiative. This
information and research conducted by the Pacific Climate Change Science Program
builds on the findings of the 2007 IPCC Fourth Assessment Report. For more detailed
information on the climate of the Cook Islands and the Pacific see: Climate Change in the
Pacific: Scientific Assessment and New Research. Volume 1: Regional Overview. Volume 2:
Country Reports. Available from November 2011.
Contact the Cook Islands
Meteorological Service:
web: www.cookislands.pacificweather.org
email: [email protected]
phone: +682 20603 or +682 25920
www.pacificclimatechangescience.org
©P
acific Climate Change Science
Program partners 2011.