All Signs Point to El Nino Weakening Through Autumn

The latest Climate Driver Update has been released this week by the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) indicating El Niño through to Autumn.

Earlier this year the BOM declared two major hot, dry climate drivers, announcing El Niño and a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD). They’ve now indicated that long-range forecasts suggest El Nino will start weakening after the autumn.

The bureau’s scan of international climate models shows the El Nino likely to weaken from April with the El Nino indicator heading slowly back towards neutral territory.

A Quick Refresher

“El Niño and a positive IOD tend to draw the rain away from Australia. The convergence of these two events can lead to below-average rainfall across the continent and elevated temperatures in the southern region during spring,” as Dr. Karl Braganza, Climate Manager of the Bureau explained.

El Nino and its counterpart, La Niña, significantly affect the weather and climate situation in Australia. El Niño conditions typically heighten the risk for more extreme temperature shifts, leading to possible heatwaves and overall hotter days. Additionally, the fire danger in south-eastern Australia increases considerably, with the IOD further amplifying the potential fire risk during springtime.

Read more about the announcement here.

The Latest Update

The World Meteorological Organisation said the El Nino “is anticipated to have substantial and widespread effects on weather patterns through much of the tropics and beyond at least until end of 2023 and first quarter of 2024”.

“Based on model predictions and expert assessment, there is a very high likelihood of the El Nino event continuing during November 2023-April 2024.

“Drawing from historical warm episodes and the most recent long-range forecasts, the gradual weakening of the El Nino is anticipated during the 2024 northern hemisphere spring (southern hemisphere autumn),” the WMO said.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology

The BOM’s latest scan of international climate models shows El Nino weakening from April, with the ENSO El Niño indicator slowly heading back towards neutral territory.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said warmer than average sea surface temperatures persist in the tropical Pacific and the atmospheric indicators are also consistent with El Nino conditions.

“The 2023 El Nino event is tracking around moderate strength with SSTs (sea surface temperatures) forecast to remain above El Nino thresholds into the early autumn 2024,” the bureau said.

They’ve also noted that the positive Indian Ocean Dipole event is continuing and tracking at strong levels.

“All international climate models surveyed by the bureau suggest the positive IOD is likely to ease in December, slightly later than usual.”

Typically, the combination of El Nino and the positive phase of the IOD favours below-average rainfall for much of tropical Australia at this time of year.

What Will the El Niño/IOD Combo Look Like?

Thanks to the combo, our December to February rainfall is likely to be below average across much of northern Queensland, the NT, Tasmania, southern and central SA, and north-west and western WA.

We’re also in for some hotter weather, with limited relief at night.

Around Australia, we’re in for a crispy, hot summer. So let’s get prepared, get the irrigation systems flawless and keep our demeanour as sunny as the summer’s going to be!

Sources: Farm Online, Bureau of Meteorology

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