'Strong' El Niño Expected in Coming Months; Australian Scientist Detects Extreme Ocean Temperatures

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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

Climate scientists have detected a spike in sea temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. The sudden rise in temperature has sparked fears of an incoming "strong El Niño" event. El Niño is a phenomenon that affects wind patterns and can cause both drought and floods.

Although previous research has claimed that extreme El Niño events might happen later in 2014, but according to experts, the recent spike in temperature hints that the El Niño phenomenon will be more likely to be "significant" than initially thought.

Expert climate scientist Dr Wenju Cai from Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, said the rise in the Pacific Ocean's temperature was above those recorded in previous El Niño events. Dr Cai said the coming weather event could be characterised as a "strong El Niño."

He said a strong El Niño event usually appear early. The weather phenomenon has been detected in the last few months which experts found unusual. Climate scientists have found a large wind causing the warming. Dr Cai said they call it as the "pre-conditioned effect."

The Australian climate scientist based his findings on the data released by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. According to Australia's Bureau of Meteorology, the chances of a strong El Niño happening in 2014 are over 70 per cent.

Based on previous records, the worst El Niño events occurred in 1997 and 1998. Massive flooding along China's Yangtze River was caused by the warming effect which killed over 1,500 people.

Reports said the impact of extreme warming events is always felt in every continent. The coming of a strong El Niño also triggers fears that key commodities in Australia and Asia will be at risk to massive damage. Australia's farmers will not be happy with the news of El Niño. About 80 per cent of Queensland and parts of northern New South Wales are already experiencing drought since March.

Australian meteorologists said the likelihood of an El Niño event will increase in one or two months despite the challenges of forecasting such a weather phenomenon.

The Australian weather bureau expects rising temperatures in the coming months. Temperatures in some areas have already increased to half a degree since early March. 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.

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