BOM: Pacific Ocean expected to warm

Commonwealth of Australia , Bureau of Meteorology

Issued on Tuesday 25 February 2014 | Product Code IDCKGEWWOO

The El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) remains neutral – neither El Niño nor La Niña. However, warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean is likely in the coming months, with international climate models surveyed by the Bureau showing Pacific Ocean temperatures approaching or exceeding El Niño thresholds in the austral winter. Model outlooks that span autumn tend to have lower skill than outlooks made at other times of the year, and hence should be used cautiously in isolation.

Recent observations add weight to the model outlooks. The tropical Pacific Ocean subsurface has warmed substantially in recent weeks, which is likely to result in a warming of the ocean surface in the coming months. A strong burst of westerly wind occurring now over the far western tropical Pacific, may cause further warming of the subsurface in the coming weeks.

The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) typically has little influence on the Australian climate from December to April. Current model outlooks suggest neutral IOD conditions for late autumn into early winter. The risk of a positive IOD event occurring is elevated during El Niño events.