The El Nino weather phenomenon, which can trigger droughts and massive floods, is underway in tropical Pacific.
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has warned that the phenomenon could be “substantial” this year, the French news agency AFP reported.
The Japan Meteorological Agency also confirmed the phenomenon had begun and forecast it would continue into late 2015.
“There’s always a little bit of doubt when it comes to intensity forecasts, but across the models as a whole we’d suggest that this will be quite a substantial El Nino event,” David Jones, from the Australian bureau’s climate information services branch, was quoted as saying.
“Certainly the models aren’t predicting a weak event. They are predicting a moderate-to-strong El Nino event. So this is a proper El Nino event, this is not a weak one or a near miss as we saw last year.”
El Nino can cause havoc for farmers and agricultural markets, hitting economies heavily dependent on the land, AFP said.
The last El Nino five years ago had a major impact with monsoons in Southeast Asia, droughts in southern Australia, the Philippines and Ecuador, blizzards in the United States, heatwaves in Brazil and killer floods in Mexico, it said.
It occurs when the trade winds that circulate over waters in the tropical Pacific start to weaken and sea surface temperatures rise.
US officials announced earlier this year that the long-awaited El Nino had arrived, but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration described it as of “weak strength”.
Australian scientists, however, said models were now showing it was likely to see an increased intensity from about September and have potential global impacts.
“Last year we saw some indices, such as the sea surface temperatures at times exceed El Nino thresholds… but we didn’t see them all coming together at the same time or we didn’t see it sustained,” Jones said.
He said this year’s pattern could create drier conditions in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and parts of Southeast Asia.
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