Friday 17 May 2024
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La Niña might form in the Pacific Ocean later in 2024, BOM

The Bureau's modelling suggests that ENSO will likely remain neutral until at least July 2024

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MELBOURNE, Australia – The El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is currently neutral, but there are some early signs that a La Niña might form in the Pacific Ocean later in 2024, says the Bureau of Meteorology of the Australian Government in its latest update. As a result, the Bureau’s ENSO Outlook has shifted to La Niña Watch.

When La Niña Watch criteria have been met in the past, a La Niña event has subsequently developed around 50% of the time. There is about an equal chance of neutral ENSO conditions in the same outlook period.

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Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the central Pacific have been steadily cooling since December 2023. This surface cooling is supported by a significant amount of sub-surface cooling in the central and eastern Pacific. Recent cloud and surface pressure patterns are ENSO-neutral.

The Bureau’s modelling suggests that ENSO will likely remain neutral until at least July 2024. It is important to emphasise that early signs of La Niña are most relevant to the climate of the tropical Pacific, and that the long-range forecast for Australian rainfall and temperature provides better guidance for local climate.


The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is currently neutral. The most recent 2 weeks have seen the IOD index within neutral thresholds, and follow 7 weeks of the index being above the positive IOD threshold (+0.40 °C). The current SST observations suggest that recent development of a positive IOD may have stalled. If a positive IOD eventually develops, it would be earlier in the calendar year than is typical historically.

Global sea surface temperatures (SSTs) have been the warmest on record for each month between April 2023 and April 2024, with April 2024 SSTs warmer than April 2023. The global pattern of warmth is affecting the typical historical global pattern of sea surface temperatures associated with ENSO and IOD variability. As the current global ocean conditions have not been observed before, inferences of how ENSO or IOD may develop in 2024 that are based on past events may not be reliable.

The Southern Annular Mode (SAM) is currently neutral (as at 13 May). Forecasts indicate the index is mostly likely to remain neutral or become positive in the coming fortnight.

The Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO) is currently weak. Most models forecast indicate that the MJO will remain weak before re-strengthening over the eastern Indian Ocean or Maritime Continent region from mid- to late-May.


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