Drought extends in East Indonesia The Jakarta Post October 11, 2002
Moch. N. Kurniawan, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
The eastern part of Indonesia will experience protracted drought triggered by aweak to medium El Nino phenomenon between 2002 and 2003, a disaster mitigationteam predicted on Thursday. The team, under the auspices of the Office of the State Minister for Researchand Technology, said that under normal conditions, many areas in the countryshould have reached the transition period between the dry and wet season, withrains coming in November. “But we forecast that the country is undergoing a weak to medium El Nino,signs of which started in May 2002,” Zadrach L. Dupe, a team member told apress conference on Thursday. “This kind of El Nino, based on our studiesof the El Nino phenomenon between 1980 to 2000, will shift drought from West toEast Indonesia.” he added.
He said the country might not suffer food shortages, but people must be carefulin managing their paddy fields. According to him, forest fires in Kalimantanmight continue due to the prolonged drought. However, there would be an increase in the number of fish in Indonesia waters asEl Nino would trigger upwelling sea currents in Indonesia waters, which bringfood for fish, thus attracting more fish to come here, Zadrach said.
He also said the drought would reach its top level in October and rainfall woulddrop by 50 percent in January. The Geophysics and Meteorology Agency (BMG) has said it had projected that therainy season in the country would arrive late this year by up to one month. The team predicted the weak to medium El Nino will end in May 2003, and theclimate will return to normal until 2004. Water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean have increased by over half a degreesince June, a strong signal that El Nino will return in 2002-2003, but it needsfive successive months before these signs can be said to be a result of El Ninoweather patterns. El Nino brings warm water from the western Pacific Ocean (Indonesia andAustralia) eastward (Western part of South America), reversing the normalpattern. It therefore causes serious drought for Indonesia as happened in 1997-1981 butcauses heavy rainfall in the western part of South America. The team said the present El Nino weather pattern may not cause food shortages,but admitted that it would continue to trigger forest fires in the country.