El Nino Seen Delayed to End of Year as Australia Stays on Watch

By | August 26, 2014

Australia remains on El Nino watch even as the onset of the weather event that brings drought to the Asia-Pacific region and heavier-than-usual rains to South America may be delayed to the end of the year.

Four of seven climate models suggest an El Nino is possible by the Australian summer, which starts in December, the Bureau of Meteorology said on its website. In its previous update on Aug. 12, the bureau said the pattern was probable for the spring, which begins in September.

El Ninos can roil agricultural markets as farmers contend with drought or too much rain. Palm oil, cocoa, coffee and sugar are among crops most at risk, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has said. The U.S. lowered this month the odds of the pattern developing this year. The chances of it occurring during the Northern Hemisphere autumn and winter are lower than earlier projections, the Japan Meteorological Agency said Aug 11.

“While tropical Pacific Ocean temperatures remain at neutral levels, there is still a chance of an El Nino in 2014,” the Melbourne-based weather bureau said today. “The brief weakening of the trade winds over the Pacific Ocean earlier in August produced little warming of tropical sea surface temperatures. However, waters below the surface of the Pacific have warmed during the past few weeks.”

There is at least a 50 percent chance of an El Nino developing in the coming months, the bureau said. That compares with a 70 percent chance predicted in May.

Probability Drops
The odds of the pattern fell to about 65 percent during the Northern Hemisphere fall and early winter, the U.S. Climate Prediction Center Prediction Center said Aug. 7. In July, the probability was almost 80 percent.

El Ninos, caused by periodic warmings of the tropical Pacific, occur every two to seven years and are associated with warmer-than-average years. The last El Nino was from 2009 to 2010, and the Pacific has either been in its cooler state, called La Nina, or neutral since then.

Weather patterns resembling an El Nino can occur even if the event hasn’t become fully established, according to the bureau. This year, that includes below-average rainfall across parts of eastern Australia, above-average daytime temperatures and a number of significant frost events, it said.

Topics Australia

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