El Niño comes to an end, La Niña on the way

Six of the eight international models reviewed by the Australia Met agency suggest that La Nina is likely to be formed between June and August


The India Meteorological Department has forecast above-normal monsoon rainfall this year. Photo: Reuters
The India Meteorological Department has forecast above-normal monsoon rainfall this year. Photo: Reuters

New Delhi: The giant weather phenomenon that drove global temperatures to new highs—El Nino—has come to an end after a year, raising hopes of rain in drought-hit regions.

An update from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) on Tuesday said the 2015-16 El Nino weather event in the Pacific Ocean has ended. “Outlooks suggest little chance of returning to El Niño levels, in which case mid-May will mark the end of the 2015-16 El Niño,” a BOM update said.

Equatorial sea surface temperatures in the eastern Pacific have cooled in the past fortnight, and are now at neutral levels for the first time since April 2015, the state weather department added.

Now, with the ocean’s surface cooling, El Nino (Spanish meaning: The boy) is likely to replaced by its opposite—La Nina (The girl).

Six of the eight international models reviewed by the state agency of Australia suggest that La Nina is likely to be formed between June and August.

A strong La Nina typically means more rainfall.

Large El Ninos are often followed by La Nina. The 2015-16 phenomenon was one of the strongest on record, comparable to the big ones in the past—1997-98 and 1982-83.

Last month, the World Meteorological Organization warned that climate will continue to be impacted in many regions even during the declining phase of El Niño and that some impacts could endure until mid-year.

The 2015-16 El Niño is said to have played a key role in the rainfall deficit of 14% in India, which has worsened a rural crisis. This was the second consecutive monsoon failure after a 12% deficit in rainfall in the 2014 monsoon season.

Weather watchers have now turned their eye on La Niña. The India Meteorological Department has forecast above-normal monsoon rainfall this year.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in its latest update, on Monday said that La Niña is favoured to develop during the northern hemisphere summer this year with about a 75% chance of La Niña during the fall and winter 2016-17.

BOM in its Tuesday update said that changes in the tropical Pacific Ocean and atmosphere combined with current climate model outlooks suggest around 50% chances of La Niña forming later in 2016.

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