Tuesday 31 January 2023

El Niño continues its steady decline

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The 2015–16 El Niño continues its slow and steady decline. The tropical Pacific Ocean has cooled further over the past fortnight, and trade winds are near normal. However the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) remains very low, indicating that while El Niño is easing, it is still capable of influencing Australian and global climate.

International climate models indicate that cooling in the tropical Pacific will continue, with a likely return to neutral levels by mid-2016. For winter and spring, climate models favour ENSO neutral slightly ahead of La Niña. However, accuracy of forecasts made at this time of year are lower than those at other times, and therefore some caution should be exercised.

Although the 2015–16 El Niño is weakening, it will continue to influence climate during the southern hemisphere autumn. In Australia, the breakdown of strong El Niño events has historically brought average to above average rainfall to many locations. However, northern Australia typically sees less rainfall than usual.

Australia’s climate is also being influenced by record warm temperatures in the Indian Ocean. The warmth in the Indian Ocean may provide extra moisture for rain systems as they cross Australia during the southern autumn.

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