High chance of El Niño in Aus­tralia, wors­en­ing heat, bush­fires and drought

The Guardian Australia - - News - Guardian staff

Heat­waves and bush­fires are pre­dicted in south­ern Aus­tralia thanks to a 70% chance of El Niño weather con­di­tions, the Bu­reau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy has warned. Although cy­clones may ease up in the north by the end of the year, the out­look for drought-hit ar­eas is not good, ac­cord­ing to the bu­reau.

“Be­tween the [above av­er­age] tem­per­a­ture and the lack of rain­fall, this is not good news,” cli­ma­tol­o­gist Robyn Duell said. “This out­look on the back of such lit­tle rain­fall and dry con­di­tions makes it such a worry for peo­ple.”

Aus­tralia had en­dured its dri­est Septem­ber since rain­fall records be­gan in 1900, Duell said.

De­spite rain in some ar­eas in the past week, most of New South Wales and Queens­land re­main bonedry. Drought con­di­tions are wors­en­ing in parts of Vic­to­ria, where farm­ers are strug­gling to save their crops.

NSW farm­ers have been hit hard by drought: 100% of the state is drought-de­clared, 34.3% is classed as drought-af­fected, 48.4% is in drought and 16.7% is in se­vere drought.

Close to 60% of Queens­land is in drought, and parts of the state have been dry for the past seven years. Farm­ers in drought-de­clared ar­eas are el­i­gi­ble for relief pay­ments and sup­port ser­vices.

El Niño is the part of the El Niño South­ern Os­cil­la­tion (Enso) char­ac­terised by weak trade winds over the Pa­cific, which re­duce mois­ture and rain­fall in eastern Aus­tralia.

An El Niño is de­tected by a sus­tained fall in the South­ern Os­cil­la­tion In­dex (SOI) to below –7. Sus­tained pos­i­tive val­ues above +7 typ­i­cally in­di­cate La Niña. Val­ues be­tween +7 and −7 gen­er­ally in­di­cate neu­tral con­di­tions.

“Any given year there is a risk be­cause El Niño is a nor­mal part of our cli­mate sys­tem. We get an El Niño on av­er­age ev­ery two to five years,” Duell told the ABC.

“That puts the risk at any given year at about a 25% chance. At the mo­ment we’re look­ing at around a 70% chance.

“This is ab­so­lutely not the type of out­look I think that many peo­ple would be hop­ing to hear.”

The bu­reau out­look also noted that the the In­dian Ocean Dipole (IOD), an­other key cli­mate in­di­ca­tor, was trend­ing pos­i­tive, fur­ther con­tribut­ing to the dry con­di­tions.

A pos­i­tive IOD event typ­i­cally re­duces spring rain­fall in cen­tral and south­ern Aus­tralia and can ex­ac­er­bate any po­ten­tial El Niño-driven rain­fall de­fi­cien­cies.

Pho­to­graph: Perry Duf­fin/AAP

El Niño likely on the way: De­spite re­cent rain in some ar­eas, much of south­ern Aus­traliare­mains in drought and can ex­pect a hot dry sum­mer.

Pho­to­graph: NSW De­part­ment of Pri­mary In­dus­tries

Drought map of NSW show­ing just 0.4%of the state is classed as non-drought and0.3% is re­cov­er­ing. The re­main­der is ei­therdrought-af­fected or in drought.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.