El Niño Phenomenon Coming Soon in Australia

By on
A South Australian policeman offers a drink of water to a koala at the side of the road
A South Australian policeman offers a drink of water to a koala at the side of the road in Adelaide January 16, 2014. Reuters

Australia Bureau of Meteorology has confirmed more signs of El Niño start to surface in the Pacific Ocean. The possibility of another drier and hotter year in Australia continues to increase as surface waters in the Pacific have "warmed" in the past two months.

The Australian weather bureau expects rising temperatures in the coming months. Temperatures in some areas have already increased to half a degree in the past two weeks. Senior Climatologist David Jones said current temperatures are now 5 to 6 degrees above normal.

Dr. Jones said things are beginning to move fast as the last time the same temperature anomaly was detected was in 1987.

Australia's farmers will not be happy with the news of El Niño. About 80 percent of Queensland and parts of northern New South Wales are already experiencing drought. The worst drought in decades has hit Queensland and caused a live export crisis. More regions in the southwest are expected to be affected by the drier and hotter climate.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has previously announced a $320-million drought relief package on Feb. 26. Farmers in drought-affected areas will be given access to a five-year concessional loan program worth $280 million. The assistance package will also provide mental health support. Queensland farmers welcome the drought assistance package which will allow them to refinance their debts in the past year.

Indian Ocean phenomenon

Extreme weather events in Australia like droughts and bushfires are caused by changes in temperature in the Indian Ocean, according to a study published on Nature Geoscience in late 2013. The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) has significant consequences like the El Niño phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean. The temperature changes in the Indian Ocean will more likely to intensify due to the climate change effects.

The Indian Ocean phenomenon is a result of the interaction between the ocean and the atmosphere. The IOD usually develops in the Southern Hemisphere during winter and becomes ready in spring. Ocean temperatures off the coast of Java and Sumatra were lower than usual while temperatures near the equator became warmer.  The changes in temperature have significant effects in the atmosphere.

The IOD can cause extreme weather in various parts of the world, including great floods in East African nations and severe droughts in Indonesia. The study linked the same phenomenon with the bushfires in Australia.

The southeast part of Australia will experience a low amount of rainfall and high temperatures during a positive IOD event. Most of the rainfall in southeast Australia during the winter and spring come from the tropical eastern part of the Indian Ocean.

Join the Discussion