La Nina nears its end

Beef Central, 14/03/2012

The 2011–12 La Niña event is nearing its end, with most indicators approaching or at neutral values according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

Climate models surveyed by the bureau suggest that the Pacific Ocean will continue to warm over the coming months, with a neutral ENSO state expected to persist at least through the second half of autumn.

While La Niña is nearing its end, waters around Australia remain warmer than normal, maintaining the potential for increased rainfall over the continent.

The declining state of the La Niña is evident in several indicators, the bureau said.

Sea surface temperatures across the central tropical Pacific Ocean are now near-normal and the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) has been in the neutral range since late February.

Central Pacific trade winds have weakened over the past fortnight, while cloudiness near the Date Line has also returned towards more normal levels.

During La Niña events, the number of tropical cyclones in the Australian region is typically above normal over the November to April tropical cyclone season, with February and March the peak.

The influence of La Niña on Australian rainfall and temperature typically peaks during winter to mid-summer, and then weakens over the following autumn.

The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) has limited influence on Australian rainfall from December through to April. Neutral IOD conditions are forecast for the austral winter.

Meanwhile, a cyclone warning remains current for coastal and island communities on the Northern Territory coastline from Kalumburu to Dundee Beach.

"The tropical low appears to be taking a south to southeasterly track into the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf,” the bureau reported in its latest update.

“The low may develop into a tropical cyclone this morning and is likely to cross the coast between Port Keats and the NT/WA border later today or tonight."



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