Originally published by Scimex

The Bureau of Meteorology has confirmed it is not yet declaring El Niño, despite the World Meteorological Organization declaring the onset of El Niño conditions on Tuesday. They say while BOM metrics indicate a 70% chance of an El Niño event occurring before summer, the set of indicators they use have not yet passed the threshold to declare an event underway. Below, Australian experts discuss what El Niño would likely look like for Australia.

Organisation/s: Australian Science Media Centre, Bureau of Meteorology, World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

Funder: N/A

Expert Reaction

These comments have been collated by the Science Media Centre to provide a variety of expert perspectives on this issue. Feel free to use these quotes in your stories. Views expressed are the personal opinions of the experts named. They do not represent the views of the SMC or any other organisation unless specifically stated.

Ruby Lieber is a PhD Candidate at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes at the University of Melbourne

“El Niño means that there is warmer than average temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean and weaker than average easterly trade winds. Because the ocean surface is warmer, more heat is released and the atmosphere warms. During El Niño it is more likely that we will experience warmer average global temperatures. Every El Niño is different and so resulting weather and climate impacts are not certain. In Australia, we would generally expect hotter and drier weather. El Niño increases the risk of drought and bushfires in Australia. Climate models suggest that El Niño impacts will become more intense under climate change.”

Last updated: 06 Jul 2023 10:05am

Declared conflicts of interest:

None declared.

Dr Abe Gibson is a Research Fellow in Sustainable Grazing Systems at Southern Cross University

“An imminent spring and summer of El Niño will no doubt worry some about the prospect of drought. While El Niño is associated with drought, its return does not guarantee a return to the conditions experienced in 2019. Some El Niño years can be wetter than average or bring average conditions such as 1976.

For most of eastern Australia, El Niño is not the sole driver of rainfall variability and therefore drought. Across this winter period, rainfall will also be influenced by the Subtropical Ridge, Indian Ocean Dipole and Southern Annular Mode. Currently, the Indian Ocean Dipole is projected to be in its dry phase while the Southern Annular Mode is negative. Given the slow nature of drought onset, these other influences will all play roles in priming us for, or protecting us from, drought during the transition from winter to spring.”

Last updated: 06 Jul 2023 10:04am

Declared conflicts of interest:

None declared.