El Nino or La Nina? Still too early to tell

James Nason, 05/08/2011

It is still too early to tell whether Australia is headed for another rain-inducing El Nino or moisture-depleting La Nina this summer, the Bureau of Meteorology says.

With neutral conditions persisting in the tropical Pacific, climatologists say it is difficult to predict summer rainfall patterns at this point.

The Bureau’s forecast based on the latest ENSO (El Nino/La Nina Southern Oscillation) data appears to take a bet each way.

“The majority of international climate model forecasts of ENSO show that neutral conditions are likely to continue for the remainder of the southern winter and into spring, with the chances of an El Niño developing now considered unlikely," the forecast says. 

“However there are no signs yet that a wet La Nina pattern is developing.”

The forecast said more models were now predicting further cooling over the coming season.

“The influence of the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) on Australian rainfall is currently neutral. Our climate model, POAMA, suggests there remains a chance of a positive IOD event forming during late winter.

“In the past, positive IOD events have been associated with drier conditions over parts of Australia, particularly in the southeast, during winter and spring.”

If another La Nina is to develop, it would be significantly less intense than the system that brought record rainfall to Eastern Australia last summer. By this time time last year very strong La Nina signals had already emerged, climatologist Jeff Sabburg told AAP news.


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