Australia issues El Nino alert, warns drought conditions may worsen

Sydney: Australia has a 70 per cent chance of being affected by the El Nino phenomenon by the end of the year, which would aggravate the severe drought suffered by several parts of its territory, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has said.

“The chance of an El Nino developing in the coming season has increased. When these criteria have been met in the past, an El Nino event has developed around 70 per cent of the time,” the BOM announced on their website on Tuesday night.

“The tropical Pacific Ocean has warmed and is approaching El Nino thresholds. Latest observations and model outlooks suggest further warming is likely. Similarly, in the Indian Ocean, a positive Indian Ocean Dipole may have started,” the Bureau was cited as saying by Efe news.

The experts warned of the effects of a positive Indian Ocean dipole, in which the warmer waters near Africa will drag moisture away from Australia.

The combination of these phenomena usually produces a reduction in spring rains and a drier onset of the rainy season in northern Australia, as well as heat waves, more severe wildfires and higher temperatures.

“The development of either would favour continued dry weather and increase the likelihood that widespread drought relief will be delayed until 2019,” experts say.

The alert coincides with one of the worst droughts in recent decades that the states of New South Wales and Queensland, in eastern Australia, have suffered since the beginning of the austral winter.

“Outlooks show a very high chance of warmer than average days and nights through to the end of 2018. Considering the year so far has already been very warm, this means 2018 has the potential to rank as another significant warm year,” said the report.

The climatologists recalled that seven of the hottest 10 years recorded in Australia have occurred since 2005.