Powerful El Nino could break records

28.07.15 By
This content is more than 8 years old

AUSTRALIANS could face yet another angry summer as the current El Niño continues to strengthen, the Climate Council said today.

“The present El Niño event could become one of the most powerful on record,” The Climate Council’s Professor Will Steffen said.

All key ocean monitoring areas in the tropical Pacific Ocean have measured more than 1 °C above average for 10 successive weeks—two weeks longer than the record set in the 1997 El Niño event.

All international climate models show that the 2015 El Niño is likely to strengthen and persist into 2016.

El Niño events often bring warmer and drier conditions to eastern Australia during the second half of the year.

Coupled with the ongoing warming trend due to climate change, eastern Australia will likely face escalating bushfire risk and the likelihood of heatwaves and record hot days as we move into spring and summer.

“Several of Australia’s most devastating bushfires have occurred following El Niño years, including the AshWednesday fires, so it’s very important that homeowners and emergency personnel begin to prepare now for what will likely be a particularly dangerous bushfire season,” Professor Steffen said.

“The strengthening El Niño event is also likely to worsen the drought already being experienced in many parts of eastern Australia.”

Professor Steffen said climate change was exacerbating El Niño conditions, “When climate change and patterns of natural variability like El Niño push in the same direction, records are likely to tumble.

“We are watching the realities of a warming world unfold before our eyes. The presence of a strong El Niñomakes it very likely that 2015 will surpass 2014 as the hottest year on record globally. It is virtually certain that 2015 will become the 39th consecutive year with above-average global temperatures” he said.

“The escalating risks associated with a rapidly warming climate underscore the importance of Australia’s emission reduction targets. To protect Australians from worsening extreme weather events, Australia must make its fair contribution to the worldwide effort to bring climate change under control.”

For media enquiries, please contact Climate Council Head of Communications Jessica Craven on 0400 424 559 or jess@climatecouncil.org.au