Patterns pointing to an El Niño weather phenomenon happening this year have started to emerge, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said on Tuesday. At present, ongoing surface temperatures at the Pacific Ocean point to levels of a weak El Niño.
While the tropical Pacific Ocean surface temperature is currently at levels typically associated with a weak El Niño, waters below the surface have cooled and atmospheric patterns continue to remain neutral, the BoM said on its Web site..
"However, over the past fortnight changes have occurred in the atmosphere that may be a response to the warm surface waters-the Southern Oscillation Index has dropped by over 10 points, and weakened trade winds have re-appeared. These changes would need to persist for several weeks in order for an El Niño to be considered established, and it remains possible they are simply related to shorter term weather variability."
"Climate models surveyed by the Bureau continue to indicate that El Niño is likely to develop by spring 2014. The Bureau's ENSO Tracker remains at El Niño ALERT, indicating at least a 70 per cent chance of El Niño developing in 2014."
El Niño is often associated with below-average rainfall over the southern and eastern inland areas of Australia, and above-average daytime temperatures over southern parts of the continent.
"Usually we have a low-pressure area at Darwin near Australia and high-pressure area at Tahiti near the South American coast," AK Srivastava, director, National Climate Centre, IMD, Pune told Economic Times. "During formation of El Nino, the high-pressure area becomes a low-pressure area and vice versa. Now we are noticing these changes in the atmosphere with relatively higher pressure at Darwin."
BoM said the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) remains neutral and is most likely to remain neutral through winter and spring.
"The likelihood of a positive IOD event increases with El Niño. Positive IOD events are typically associated with large parts of southern and central Australia experiencing lower rainfall than usual."
India's location may work to its advantage. "We may survive El Nino as we are at its periphery," Srivastava said.