El Nino has likely peaked; El Nina might follow, forecasters say

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Courtesy: FAO

The El Nino that battered global weather patterns last year has peaked and various indicators suggest that it will decline in the coming months, Australian forecasters have predicted.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said on its website that a number of El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) indicators suggest that conditions would return to normal during the second quarter of this year.

There were chances of La Nina in the second half of the year, it added. La Nina is a cooling in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, sometimes thought of as El Nino’s opposite.

“In the central to eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, the sea surface and sub-surface have cooled in recent weeks, though temperatures remain at strong El Niño levels. In the atmosphere, the Southern Oscillation Index has eased to weak El Niño values. Recent bursts of westerly winds over the equatorial western Pacific may temporarily slow the decline of El Niño,” the bureau said.

It said based on the 26 El Niño events since 1900, around 50 percent have been followed by a neutral year, while 40 percent have been followed by La Niña.

“Models also suggest neutral and La Niña are equally likely for the second half of 2016, with a repeat El Niño the least likely outcome, the bureau said.

The current El Nino is rated as one of the three strongest since 1950. The warming of the equatorial Pacific changes weather worldwide, bringing drought to parts of Asia while the southern U.S. can get more rain. Its effects helped palm oil cap its best year since 2010, while sugar posted its first annual gain in five years, Bloomberg said.

It said La Nina can also roil agricultural markets as it changes weather. A large part of the agricultural U.S. tends to dry out during La Nina events, while parts of Australia and Indonesia can be wetter than normal. Citigroup Inc. has said that a transition to a strong La Nina may present significant upside potential for grains price volatility. The previous La Nina began in 2010 and continued into 2012.

 

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