SYDNEY – Australia has a 70 percent chance of being affected by the El Niño 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) declared late Tuesday.
“The chance of an El Niño developing in the coming season has increased. When these criteria have been met in the past, an El Niño event has developed around 70 percent of the time,” the BOM announced on their website.
“The tropical Pacific Ocean has warmed and is approaching El Niño thresholds. Latest observations and model outlooks suggest further warming is likely. Similarly, in the Indian Ocean, a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) may have started,” the Bureau added.
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,” the experts pointed.
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,” the report said.
The climatologists recalled that seven of the hottest 10 years recorded in Australia have occurred since 2005.