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El Niño conditions persist so Australian summer will be hot

December 23rd, 2014

The Bureau of Meteorology reports that indicators remain broadly consistent with borderline El Niño conditions. Regardless of El Niño status, the Bureau report, El Niño-like impacts are likely to continue. For Australia, this means drier and warmer than average weather is likely in many areas.

Sea surface temperatures have exceeded thresholds for a number of weeks, and the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) has generally been negative for the past few months. Trade winds have been near-average along the equator, but weaker in the broader tropical belt. Together, these indicate some weak coupling of the atmosphere and ocean may be occuring.

Climate models expect little change over the next two to three months, with most predicting a persistence of the current warm sea surface temperatures. If current conditions do persist or strengthen into next year, 2014–15 is likely to be considered a weak El Niño. As a result, the Bureau’s ENSO Tracker status remains at ALERT.

Model outlooks

Four of the eight surveyed international climate models predict that central Pacific Ocean SSTs will reach El Niño thresholds before autumn. Around half of the models predict SSTs will be above the threshold value during some or all of the austral autumn, while the others indicate warm but neutral conditions. On the whole, these outlooks continue to indicate that peak central equatorial Pacific SSTs are unlikely to rise far beyond the threshold value.

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