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Interaction between the National Climate Centre and communities around the country will be a feature of NIWA’s new climate monitoring and prediction service launched today.

New Zealand has been experiencing exceptionally settled autumn weather over the last week or so. This is because an unusually strong and persistent anticyclone (high) has given the country very high pressures from 19 May, resulting in "Golden Autumn Weather", with mild daytime temperatures, crisp nights, light winds, hardly any rain and an abundance of sunshine.

New Zealand’s glacier snow lines at the end of summer were among the highest on record, with the majority of the country's significant glaciers having lost all of last year’s winter snow.

Climate observations and predictions point to La Niña weather conditions continuing over New Zealand during winter according to NIWA senior climate scientist Dr Jim Salinger.

The establishment of a National Climate Centre for Monitoring and Prediction to become fully operational by early July was announced today by NIWA (the National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research).

Internationally significant new evidence of the vital role in global climate change played by the Southern Ocean has been assembled by a multi-national New Zealand-led research team during a 30-day scientific expedition into Antarctic waters, 2500 miles southwest of New Zealand.

NIWA's research vessel Tangaroa sails from Wellington tomorrow [Sunday, 31 January] on a month-long million-dollar, multi-national scientific expedition that will take her 2000 miles southwest of New Zealand into the Southern Ocean around Antarctica.

The earth’s temperature in 1998 was easily the highest in the global record reaching back to 1860. The final confirmed global mean temperature was 0.56°C above the recent long-term average based on the period 1961-1990. The previous warmest year globally, 1997, was 0.43°C warmer than average.

The chances of a remnant tropical cyclone crossing northern New Zealand is raised this summer and autumn, according to research by NIWA climate scientists. And there is a very real chance that some part of New Zealand will see either the high winds or heavy rainfall these systems produce.

Higher than usual risks of tropical cyclones are predicted for the melanesian countries of Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia in the coming tropical cyclone season, according to climate scientist Reid Basher of New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA). "This is because of the La Niña conditions which have begun to affect the South Pacific region’s climate this year" says Dr Basher.

Observations in the tropical Pacific confirm that a La Niña event is now under way and is continuing to strengthen. "It looks like this La Niña is shaping up to be the most significant since the 1988/89 La Niña", says NIWA climate scientist Dr Jim Renwick. "Sea temperatures in the critical region along the equator in the central Pacific are now well below average."

A significant shift in the New Zealand climate has occurred during the past 20 years.

Developing atmospheric conditions in the equatorial Pacific Ocean point to La Niña weather conditions prevailing over New Zealand by Christmas according to NIWA senior climate scientist Dr Brett Mullan.

Climate statistics disclose that the global heatwave of 1998 is also affecting New Zealand.

Globally, February 1998 was the most above average month in the instrumental climate record.

Extremely hot nor’westers tumbled March temperature records in Canterbury and North Otago yesterday.

The current El Niño episode in the Pacific is weakening and is expected to have departed by mid-winter, according to NIWA senior climate scientist Dr Jim Salinger.


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