The chance of an El Nino this year just increased, meaning there is now three times the normal risk of the climate driver associated with hot and dry conditions happening this year. Senior climatologist Robyn Duell mentioned “We’ve been hovering at an El Nino watch for a long time going ‘Will it? Won’t it?'” , but Ms Duell said in the past three weeks staff had seen a little bit of a kick in the eastern Pacific Ocean temperatures, which was finally showing up in the winds. “We’ve seen a response in the atmosphere. That’s why we’ve raised our alert up from a watch to an alert,” she said.
Ms Duell said there was cool water to the north-east of Australia that indicated the country could currently be in the positive phase of the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) climate driver. The IOD drives circulations across the Indian Ocean in much the same way as the ENSO does over the Pacific. The positive IOD is the phase associated with dry conditions in Australia. Ms Duell said El Nino and positive IOD events often worked together, occurring at the same time and often reinforcing each other.