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2010 might be year with smallest number of typhoons

world Updated: Nov 20, 2010 13:25 IST

The number of typhoons spawned in 2010 might become the lowest on record, with experts suspecting the El Nino phenomenon that lasted until spring 2010 and the powerful high-pressure system in the Pacific observed in the summer as its causes.

As of Saturday, a total of 14 typhoons - tropical cyclones generated in the Northwest Pacific or the South China Sea north of the equator with a minimum velocity of 61.9 kilometers per hour - have been spawned in 2010.

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, which has been keeping statistics on the cyclones since 1951, the smallest number of typhoons, or 16, was recorded in 1998. The annual number between 1971 and 2000 averaged at 26.7, while the largest number on record is 39 in 1967.

Typhoons can cause floods and other types of damage, but they also contribute to securing water resources.

The sea east of the Philippines is the chief generation source for typhoons. Usually, 15-16 typhoons develop in the area every year, but the number has been five so far in 2010.

The agency believes the well-developed Pacific high that brought this summer's heat wave has weakened the atmosphere's convective activity in the sea, nipping the development of rain clouds, which mother typhoons.

El Nino can similarly work to dampen the air's convective activity in the sea near the Philippines and the latest phenomenon is believed to have contributed to decreasing the number of typhoons in 2010, agency officials said.

The Japanese agency's simulation shows that progress in global warming will reduce the number of typhoons, but make each one more intense.