Sydney: Akey measure of El Nino weather patterns eased in June suggests the potentially damaging condition may be developing slowly, although India’s monsoon will remain weak, Australia’s weather bureau said.
An El Nino, which means little boy in Spanish, is driven by an abnormal warming of the eastern Pacific Ocean, and creates havoc in weather patterns across the Asia-Pacific region.
Slow activity: A farmer in his field on the outskirts of Hyderabad. India’s is experiencing a weaker annual monsoon this year. Mahesh Kumar A / AP
The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), a key factor in identifying an El Nino that is calculated from monthly and seasonal fluctuations in air pressure between Tahiti and Darwin, eased in June to negative 2 from a negative 5 in May, the bureau said on Tuesday.
A sustained negative SOI often indicates El Nino, a condition that can bring drought conditions to Australia’s farmlands, weaken the Asian monsoon critical for Indian crops, stir up storms in the Gulf of Mexico and cause flooding in Latin America.
“Minus 10 is an often used threshold level and it just got to there a few times, but it hasn’t been sustained at that level,” Sam Cleland, author of the Bureau of Meteorology’s weekly ‘Tropical Climate Note’, said on Tuesday.
“I don’t think we’d make the call just yet that we have an El Nino event in place,” he said ahead of the bureau’s El Nino update on Wednesday.
Its last report said an El Nino was very likely in 2009 and may be declared in coming weeks. The last El Nino was in 2006.
India, one of the world’s biggest producers and consumers of everything from sugar to soybeans, is already experiencing a weaker annual monsoon. Its faltering sugar crop has helped drive world prices of the commodity to their highest in three years.
India’s monsoon will remain weak according to the latest Madden-Julian Oscillation index, which gauges the eastward progress of tropical rain, Cleland said. It was too early to get a read on the potential intensity of a new El Nino, he added. “There’s no strong indication at this stage of what level of impact this ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) event could have,” he said, adding that some weak El Ninos have had severe impacts on Australia rainfall, while stronger El Ninos have only had marginal impacts.