El Nino more likely as Pacific warms

The chance of the country experiencing an El Nino event has increased in the face of warming Pacific Ocean temperatures, according to new findings released by the Bureau of Meteorology.

The likelihood of an El Nino forming in the coming months has been increased to 70 percent, or roughly three times the normal likihood, says Dr Andrew Watkins, the Bureau’s manager of long-range forecasting.

"In recent weeks, we've seen a warming in sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean to near El Niño thresholds, and a number of international models, including our own, are suggesting the warming will continue as we move closer to winter."

"These changes in the ocean are often a precursor to an El Niño. We're now also seeing some signs of the atmosphere responding to this warming of the Pacific Ocean temperatures, and if this persists, weather patterns around the globe may also change."

Dr Watkins said El Niño events typically mean a drier than average winter and spring for eastern Australia, and warmer than average conditions in the south.

"It's important to remember that the strength of an El Niño doesn't always reflect the severity of the impacts.

"For example, we've had very strong El Niño events that have brought mild impacts, but we've also had the flipside with weak El Niño's bringing much more severe impacts.

"We'll be monitoring conditions in the Pacific Ocean very closely and will provide the Australian community with the very latest information should we see further developments."

The latest edition of the Bureau’s ENSO outlook can be found here

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