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A "substantial" El Nino event has begun, raising the likelihood of worsening drought over inland Australia and higher daytime temperatures, the Bureau of Meteorology said.
"This will be quite a substantial event," said David Jones, head of climate monitoring at the bureau. "It's not a weak one or a near miss" as in 2014, he said. "This event is perhaps running ahead of where the models had predicted."
Current state of the Pacific and Indian Ocean
El Niño strengthens
Issued on 26 May 2015 | Product Code IDCKGEWW00
The El Niño in the tropical Pacific continues to strengthen. International climate models surveyed by the Bureau
indicate sea surface temperatures will remain well above El Niño thresholds at least into the southern hemisphere
Oceanic and atmospheric indicators show a clear El Niño signal. Sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific
Ocean have exceeded El Niño thresholds for nearly two months, supported by warmer-than-average waters below
the surface. Trade winds have remained consistently weaker than average since the start of the year, cloudiness
at the Date Line has increased, and the 90-day average Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) is now below −10.
El Niño is often associated with below-average winter and spring rainfall over eastern Australia, and aboveaverage
daytime temperatures over the southern half of the country. However, the strength of El Niño doesn't
directly relate to the strength of its effects on Australia's climate.
The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is currently neutral, with the majority of the Indian Ocean being warmer than
average. Of the five international models that monitor the IOD, three suggest a positive IOD event is likely later in
2015. A positive IOD is typically associated with reduced winter and spring rainfall over parts of southern and
Next update expected on 9 June 2015 |
Wild weather across US and Mexico a sign of El Niño's return
10:53 27 May 2015 by Michael Slezak
For similar stories, visit the Climate Change and US national issues Topic Guides
Wild weather in Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Alaska could be the first signs of the havoc that El Niño is likely to wreak this year.
A five-year drought in parts of Texas and Oklahoma has dramatically broken – with floods that have busted dams, washed away houses and taken at least 14 lives. In Texas the rains came suddenly over the weekend. "This is the biggest flood this area of Texas has ever seen," state governor Greg Abbott said on Monday.
originally posted by: ketsuko
They've predicted a Super El Nino for the past two years now. Do you think third time is the charm?
This is basically a multi-year event that looks strong now because we're already at El Nino conditions and have been at a weak to moderate level for some time.
To understand the importance of WWBs, let's take a step back and look at what we already know about how El Niño works. In normal years, tropical trade winds blow from the east to the west across the Pacific, pushing warm surface waters from South America towards Australia and Asia. As the Earth spins around its axis, the water is also pushed away from the equator due to a phenomenon called the Coriolis effect. (To picture this, imagine the sideward push you feel when riding a merry-go-round).
El Niño threatens to bring drought to Africa Sahel, India, China, southeast Asia, Australia and Brazil©Getty
El Niño threatens to bring drought to Africa Sahel, India, China, southeast Asia, Australia and Brazil
Farmers and commodity investors around the world are braced for weather disruptions affecting harvests and markets as leading meteorological agencies have warned of a longer and stronger than expected El Niño phenomenon.
Japan’s Meteorological Agency warned on Wednesday that the El Niño of 2015 is growing stronger and that its effects could last until the winter. Tamaki Yasuda, senior co-ordinator at the JMA, said his agency’s models included scenarios in which the 2015 weather event could produce higher temperatures than in 1997-98, the strongest El Niño on record.
The comments come after Australian forecasters this week noted widespread warming of sea surface temperatures not seen since 1997, when the strongest El Niño on record wreaked havoc on harvests around the world.
El Niño continues to pick up steam. NOAA CPC/IRI forecasters are now very confident that the event will continue through the fall (over 90% chance) and into the winter (~85% chance). Now that we’re emerging from the spring barrier, this month’s update provides a first guess of the potential strength of El Niño. It’s harder to predict the strength of the event than it is to predict its duration, so we are less confident about that, but forecasters currently favor a “strong” event for the fall/early winter. By “strong” we mean it’s expected that the three-month average sea surface temperature in the Niño3.4 region will peak at more than 1.5°C (2.7°F) above normal.
Globally, this El Niño event is likely to lead to higher global temperatures, possibly record-breaking. On this, check out Deke Arndt’s post on our new sister blog, Beyond the Data. Also, as I mentioned last month, the tropical Pacific hurricane season is already breaking records, while the Atlantic hurricane season is forecast to be quieter than average—both effects linked to El Niño. For the coming summer (June-August), check out Tony’s post on potential temperature and precipitation impacts linked to El Niño.
Many, many different components are at work in the global climate system, making exact predictions impossible. However, the development of a climate phenomenon like El Niño can make some outcomes more likely than others, which is why we follow it so closely. We’ll keep you posted as this event continues.
July 2015 El Niño update: Bruce Lee?
Author: Emily Becker
Thursday, July 9, 2015
During the end of June and first week of July, another very strong westerly wind burst occurred in the western Pacific, on the heels of the MJO event. It is likely that this westerly wind burst will reinforce the movement of warmer waters to the east, maintaining and probably strengthening this El Niño.
Nearly all models predict El Niño to continue into the Northern Hemisphere winter 2015-16, with many multi-model averages predicting a strong event at its peak strength (3-month values of the Niño-3.4 index of +1.5oC or greater; Fig. 6). At this time, the forecaster consensus is in favor of a significant El Niño in excess of +1.5oC in the Niño-3.4 region. Overall, there is a greater than 90% chance that El Niño will continue through Northern Hemisphere winter 2015-16, and around an 80% chance it will last into early spring 2016 (click CPC/IRI consensus forecast for the chance of each outcome for each 3-month period).
August 2015 El Niño update: Supercalifragilisticexpealidocious
Author: Emily Becker
Thursday, August 13, 2015
As of August, NOAA and IRI forecasters are predicting this El Niño will peak in the late fall/early winter with 3-month-average sea surface temperatures in the Niño3.4 region near or exceeding 2.0°C (3.6°F) above normal. If this forecast comes true, it will place the 2015 event among the strongest El Niños in the (admittedly short) 1950-2015 historical record. What would this mean for expected impacts in the United States?
later in article
In other words, even a strong El Niño is not a sure-fire drought-buster for California (Tom wrote about this last year; and Mike covered it as well), so it’s not time to stop conserving water, especially given how entrenched this drought is (i.e. it will likely take more than one good year to erase). However, a strong El Niño does increase the chance of more precipitation overall during the winter, and also brings the potential for extreme rainfall. This may help alleviate the drought, but also can also lead to mudslides and flooding.
So at the Climate Prediction Center we’re not spending a lot of time debating about if El Niño Bruce Lee will be the strongest El Niño in history, or the second-strongest, or the third, etc. A strong event increases the probability that the U.S. will experience weather and climate impacts, but the strength of the event does not map directly on to the strength of the impacts.
As you can see, the chance of an extreme El Niño in the eastern Pacific is not straightforward to assess (5). Several factors will affect such a estimation. This year’s El Niño is already different from anything seen before. Furthermore, the rules of how the climate system works do not stay the same throughout time (e.g. climate change may affect El Niño), so statistical relationships found in a previous period might not be valid anymore.
Also, it is possible that random factors outside of the El Niño system could go against El Niño to keep it below the extreme threshold. Although several climate models are predicting a very strong El Niño, due to their common errors, we cannot fully trust them. Perhaps the only reliable rule is that El Niño can surprise us, and this year could be yet another example.
Anthony Barnston, lead reviewer
All models surveyed predict El Niño to continue into the Northern Hemisphere spring 2016, and all multi-model averages predict a peak in late fall/early winter (3-month values of the Niño-3.4 index of +1.5oC or greater; Fig. 6). The forecaster consensus unanimously favors a strong El Niño, with peak 3-month SST departures in the Niño 3.4 region near or exceeding +2.0oC. Overall, there is an approximately 95% chance that El Niño will continue through Northern Hemisphere winter 2015-16, gradually weakening through spring 2016 (click CPC/IRI consensus forecast for the chance of each outcome for each 3-month period).
This El Niño continues to rank among the strongest in our records, which start in 1950. The July-September 3-month average sea surface temperature (the ONI) was 1.5°C above normal, third in line behind July-September 1987 (1.6°C) and 1997 (1.7°C). The atmospheric response to the warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures is keeping pace, too: the Equatorial Southern Oscillation Index (EQSOI) is -2.2. This is second to 1997’s -2.6, and well ahead of the next two El Niños on the list (1972 and 1982, tied at -1.4).
Here’s a fun fact for your next nerdy cocktail party… Boulder, Colorado has registered seven October snowstorms with more than one foot of snow since 1950, every one happening during an El Niño winter. Snowstorms are really complex weather events that are difficult to forecast, even just a few days in advance, so this isn’t to say that Boulder should expect a big snowstorm this month. However, thanks to El Niño, the odds are tilted toward greater-than-average rain or snow in Colorado, and much of the southern half of the country, in late fall and early winter
Who’s feeling the effects?
In the U.S., the season of strongest El Niño impacts is December through March. While we’re waiting to see what the strong 2015-16 El Niño brings us, we’ll look around a few other corners of the world to see what’s happened so far.
El Niño has substantial impacts in two regions of Africa. I checked in with the Climate Prediction Center’s International Desk to see what’s been going on. In East Africa, including Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, and Rwanda, the primary impact season is October–December, when El Niño tends to enhance the ”short rains” rainy season (the “long rains” season, which is much less ENSO-sensitive, is March-May), leading to wetter conditions. Over the last month, rain has begun to increase across much of the area, and some flooding has been seen in Somalia. Short-term forecasts suggest the wetter conditions should continue through the next few weeks, at least.
In a couple of short sentences, here are some huge impacts: El Niño-related dry conditions in Indonesia have set the stage for devastating fires, and the region is experiencing the greatest number of forest fires since 1997. Also, all the extra warm waters associated with this El Niño are placing heat stress on sea life, and an intense coral bleaching event is underway.
Every El Niño event is different, and even if there are some strong similarities between this El Niño and another, we’d be really surprised if everything lined up exactly the same. By most measures, this is one of the top three strongest El Niños since 1950, and there’s still a chance it could record the highest Oceanic Niño Index (the three-month-mean sea surface temperature anomaly in the Niño3.4 region, our primary ENSO metric). But ocean temperatures are just one way to measure ENSO, which can be tracked in many ways.
While the warmer-than-average ocean waters are likely reaching their peak about now, they will remain a huge source of warmth for the next several months to drive the main impacts on temperature and rain/snow over North America, which typically follow the peak. The main impacts season is December–March, so we’re just at the very beginning of finding out what this El Niño event will bring to the U.S. There’s no doubt that El Niño 2015-2016, which has already shown its power around the world, will have a significant effect on the U.S. winter.
Before January of 2014, the world experienced a 15-year period of mostly negative values for the Pacific oscillation, according to data maintained by Nathan Mantua, an atmospheric scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Oceans.
That period saw only weak or moderate El Nino events. During the 21 years before that, the Pacific oscillation values trended mostly positive, a period that coincided with the 1982-83 and 1997-98 El Nino events, two of the strongest on record.
Now, scientists are beginning to wonder if the 15-year period of relative El Nino calm is coming to a close, marking the start of a warmer, stormier era akin to the 1980s and 90s.
The PDO index has been positive for 22 months through October, the longest such streak since a 26-month positive period between 2002 and 2004. Scientists are not sure if the current streak marks a longer-term turnaround or just a temporary blip like the 2002-2004 streak.
"It's more likely that we'll have a change in phase and we'll remain in positive territory," said Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, noting that while a decadal shift was far from a guarantee, the odds in favor are approximately 2-to-1.
Read more at Reuterswww.reuters.com...
The strongest El Nino weather cycle on record is likely to increase the threat of hunger and disease for millions of people in 2016, aid agencies say.
The weather phenomenon is set to exacerbate droughts in some areas, while increasing flooding in others.
Some of the worst impacts are likely in Africa with food shortages expected to peak in February.
Regions including the Caribbean, Central and South America will also be hit in the next six months.
This periodic weather event, which tends to drive up global temperatures and disturb weather patterns, has helped push 2015 into the record books as the world's warmest year.
Drought and erratic rains have affected two million people across Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. More floods are expected in Central America in January.
"Millions of people in places like Ethiopia, Haiti and Papua New Guinea are already feeling the effects of drought and crop failure," said Jane Cocking, from Oxfam.
"We urgently need to get help to these areas to make sure people have enough food and water.
Happy New Year! December was an action-packed month, El Niño-wise. We’ll take a look at what happened in the tropical Pacific and around the world.
Out with the old
El Niño put up some pretty impressive numbers in December. The Niño3.4 index, which compares ocean surface temperatures in the east-central Pacific to the long-term average, broke the record in December, coming in at 2.38°C above average, surpassing December 1997’s 2.24°C. (This is using the ERSSTv4, the most historically consistent sea surface data we have.)
El Niño is ultimately measured on seasonal timescales, though, so the average of the sea surface temperature anomaly (departure from the long-term average) over three months is what we really pay attention to. In October–December 2015, the Oceanic Niño Index was 2.25°C, tied with the same period in 1997.
So El Niño is certainly cranking away in the equatorial Pacific. Is it influencing the weather around the world in the ways we’d expect? The main season for El Niño impacts in the U.S. (January–March) is just beginning in the U.S., but it’s winding down in other areas of the world.
Australia’s typical El Niño impact is dry conditions over most of the continent from about July through December, but through this period there hasn’t been a very clear deficit except in portions of eastern Australia. It’s possible that a record warm Indian Ocean had a strong effect on the climate in Australia this year, a reminder that the climate system has a lot of moving parts, and impacts from El Niño are expected, but not guaranteed.
That said, in other areas of the world, El Niño impacts were clearer. Much more rain than normal fell in eastern Africa, as their “short rains” rainy season (October–December) was enhanced by El Niño, while southern Africa has had continued dry conditions. Uruguay, southern Brazil, and Paraguay also experienced a lot of rain, and northern South America has been dry, as often happens in September–December during El Niño.