Australia warns of worse fires, heat as El Nino kicks in


Published: 2023-09-20 12:28

Last Updated: 2024-04-14 17:57

Australia warns of worse fires, heat as El Nino kicks in
Australia warns of worse fires, heat as El Nino kicks in

Australia's weather bureau confirmed Tuesday that an El Nino weather pattern is underway, bringing hot and dry conditions that risk a severe wildfire season and drought.

The announcement, which follows similar confirmations from other weather agencies, came as the country bakes in unseasonal heat, with the weather agency warning of more to come.

Government forecaster Karl Braganza said elevated surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean could impact the country until early next year.

"This summer will be hotter than average, and certainly hotter than the last three years," he said.

"Importantly with the El Nino now settling into that pattern in the Pacific Ocean, that increases our confidence that this pattern is going to last until the end of summer," he added.

The El Nino climate pattern occurs on average every two to seven years and usually lasts between nine to 12 months.

In July, the UN's World Meteorological Organization declared El Nino was already underway and said there was a 90-percent chance that it would continue during the second half of 2023.

El Nino is typically associated with warming ocean surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.

It can bring severe droughts to Australia, Indonesia and other parts of southern Asia, coupled with increased rainfall in parts of southern South America, the southern United States, the Horn of Africa and central Asia.

The relationship between El Nino and climate change is not well understood.

But Australia's government science agency earlier this year concluded that climbing global temperatures may increase both the likelihood of the pattern forming, and the severity of its impacts.