WMO declares El Niño, calls on governments to prepare

The World Meteorological Organization has joined the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in declaring El Niño is underway.

El Niño drives increased rainfall and warming oceans in the eastern Pacific in South America, the US and Central Asia, it often leads to reduced rainfall and potential drought in Australia, South-East Asia and Central America.

The WMO says El Niño conditions have developed in the tropical Pacific Ocean, with a 90% probability they will continue toward the end of 2023.

It marks the first El Niño declaration by the WMO in seven years.

Explainer: El Niño, La Niña, Indian Ocean Dipole: what are the climate patterns that affect Australian weather?

“The onset of El Niño will greatly increase the likelihood of breaking temperature records and triggering more extreme heat in many parts of the world and in the ocean,” said WMO Secretary-General, Professor Petteri Taalas.

“The declaration of an El Niño by WMO is the signal to governments around the world to mobilise preparations to limit the impacts on our health, our ecosystems and our economies.

“Early warnings and anticipatory action of extreme weather events associated with this major climate phenomenon are vital to save lives and livelihoods.”

As of its latest update, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology remains on ‘El Niño Alert’, and has not made a formal declaration of the climactic event. As told to Cosmos last week, the Bureau is monitoring the influence of weakening trade winds dragging warm ocean water away from the western Pacific Ocean towards the Americas.

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