Drought data vital

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The National,Thursday June 23rd, 2016

A LEADING expert on agriculture says data on the recent El Nino-induced drought must be recorded and kept for future reference.
Dr Mike Bourke of the Australian National University told church partnership programme disaster coordinators attending a three-day workshop that this was because the country was likely to face more similar weather patterns caused by climate change.
“Specialists tell us that we’re probably going to have more El Ninos in the future,” he said.
“They tell us that Papua New Guinea in general is going to get wetter and other places are going to get drier.
“Overall, Papua New Guinea will probably get wetter with climate change, and we’ll probably get more El Ninos.
“What I’m saying is that it (El Nino) is going to come back. That’s why I’ve talked before about the need to record our experience in 2015 and 2016,   just like we did in 1997 and 1998.”
Dr Bourke, who was involved in the 1997-1998 El Nino rehabilitation, said the drought then was bigger than the recent one.
“What we had at an international level or PNG level was even bigger than this,” he said.
“If you’re sitting on an island in Milne Bay, or sitting in Morehead or Mougolu (in Western), you don’t care whether these comparisons are relevant. What is relevant is your food.
“When I look at the national level, I can say that this is not quite as bad as 1997.”
Dr Bourke said history showed that there had been El Ninos in 1903, 1914, 1941, 1972, 1982, 1997 and 2015.
“We don’t know whether these are going to get worse in future with climate change,” he said.
“We know that climate is changing. Anybody who lives in a small atoll in Milne Bay, Bougainville or Manus knows that the sea level is rising.”