The formation of the El Nino weather phenomenon – usually associated with rising temperatures and severe droughts that can lead to devastating forest fires – was announced on Tuesday, September 19, by the Australian meteorological office.
Karl Braganza, a government forecaster, said an El Nino phenomenon has taken hold in the Pacific Ocean, coinciding with the unusual spring heatwave currently affecting eastern Australia.
Braganza said the weather will help warm the oceans, which have been experiencing record temperatures since April. "This (austral) summer will be warmer than average and certainly hotter than in the last three years," he said.
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In July, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) estimated a 90% chance of the phenomenon forming in the second half of 2023.
"The arrival of El Nino will significantly increase the likelihood of breaking temperature records and triggering more extreme heat in many parts of the world and in the oceans," WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said in the bulletin.
A phenomenon occurring every two to seven years
El Nino occurs on average every two to seven years, and episodes typically last nine to twelve months.
It is a natural climate phenomenon associated with warming ocean surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. But the current episode "is however part of the context of a climate modified by human activities," said the WMO.
El Nino is generally associated with increased rainfall in parts of southern Latin America, southern United States, the Horn of Africa and Central Asia. It can cause severe droughts in Australia, Indonesia, parts of South Asia and Central America.
In contrast, its warm waters can fuel hurricanes in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean, while they can curb hurricane formation in the Atlantic basin.
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