The Australian weather bureau sees a 50% chance of La Nina this year

CANBERRA (Reuters) – There are early signs that a La Nina weather event could occur in the Pacific Ocean later this year, the Australian weather agency said on Tuesday.

A La Nina would have significant impacts on global agriculture, as it typically brings wetter weather in eastern Australia and Southeast Asia and drier conditions in the Americas.

The agency said it had declared a “La Nina Watch.”

“Historically, when La Nina Watch criteria were met, a La Nina event subsequently developed approximately 50% of the time,” the report said.

La Nina events result from cooler sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. Warmer temperatures at the sea surface could trigger an opposite weather phenomenon called El Nino, which occurred last year and lasted until early 2024.

“Sea surface temperatures in the central Pacific Ocean have steadily declined since December 2023,” the agency said.

“The Agency’s modeling suggests that ENSO will likely remain neutral until at least July 2024,” the agency said, using its formal name, the El Niño Southern Oscillation, to describe the transition between the two phases.

Other forecasters have also announced a La Nina later this year. Last week, Japan’s weather bureau said there was a 60% chance this would happen in November, and a US government forecaster said there was a 69% chance it would develop in July-September.

(Reporting by Peter Hobson; Editing by Sonali Paul)