Climate

El Niño development pauses; ENSO Outlook remains at El Niño WATCH

6 June 2017

BOM: June 6 2017

The El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) remains neutral. The Bureau’s ENSO Outlook remains at El Niño WATCH, meaning there is around a 50% chance of El Niño developing in 2017—double the normal likelihood. However several indicators have shown little or no increase for several weeks, suggesting El Niño development has stalled for now.

Sea surface temperatures across the tropical Pacific remain warmer than average, though cooling has occurred in some areas over recent weeks in response to stronger than average trade winds. The Southern Oscillation Index has also eased to near zero values. All other ENSO indicators also remain neutral.

Four of eight international climate models suggest tropical Pacific Ocean temperatures may exceed El Niño thresholds during the second half of 2017, down from seven of eight models that were forecasting a possible event in April. Virtually all models have reduced the extent of predicted ocean warming compared to earlier in the year, indicating that if El Niño forms, it is likely to be weak.

El Niño is often, but not always, associated with a drier than average winter and spring over eastern Australia. If the tropical Pacific remains warmer than average, but El Niño thresholds are not quite met, some El Niño-like effects are still possible.

The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) remains neutral. Four out of six climate models suggest a positive IOD will develop by the end of winter. A positive IOD is typically associated with a drier than average winter and spring for southern and central Australia.

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