Bureau remains on El Niño Alert as world heats up 

The Bureau of Meteorology remains on ‘El Niño Alert’, having opted not to update its position on the likelihood of the natural climate event forming.  

That’s despite other atmospheric authorities including the WMO and NOAA declaring El Niño is underway, as the world experienced record high temperatures last week amid record low levels of sea ice formation in Antarctica. 

While sea surface temperatures in the Pacific are above thresholds to declare El Niño, the Bureau has observed neutral shifts in the Southern Oscillation Index for it to remain outside thresholds required for a declaration, while sustained changes in atmospheric patterns are yet to eventuate.

“We also need to see a shift if the tropical atmosphere for us to announce an El Niño event,” says Bureau senior climatologist Catherine Gantner.

“Meteorological agencies have tailored their services around the impact of El Niño or La Niña for their country and the Bureau considers its service best suited for Australia. the US, Japan and Australia each have slightly different metrics [and] monitoring.”

The Bureau typically holds off on declaring El Niño events for Australia until both sea surface temperatures in particular segments of the Pacific and atmospheric pressure changes in the tropics above Australia are coupled. 

Although the Bureau has stayed on making an El Niño declaration, it continues to predict hotter and drier conditions across the continent into October with a positive Indian Ocean Dipole likely to develop into Spring. 

The next climate driver update will be issued on August 1.  

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