La Niña set to bring winter rain
A James Cook University scientist is warning sugar cane farmers they may have to put the ‘pedal to the metal’ as it looks likely a La Niña weather pattern will break droughts and bring wetter than normal weather to much of Australia this winter and spring.
JCU Associate Professor Yvette Everingham said it’s almost certain the current El Niño weather pattern is weakening and international forecasters are growing increasingly confident it will be replaced by a La Niña system.
El Niño events are associated with a warming of the central and eastern tropical Pacific, while La Niña events are the reverse.
Dr Everingham said while scientists aren’t absolutely certain, forecast models all around the globe are beginning to show the same trend, and it’s starting to look like good news for many drought-hit regions. “A La Nina will increase the odds of getting much needed relief rainfall in many places around Australia,” she said.
Measurements of sea surface temperatures in the eastern Pacific have started to turn cooler than normal and Dr Everingham said the Southern Oscillation, has turned positive for the first time in two years, which strengthens the emerging La Nina storyline.
But the news is a mixed blessing for sugarcane growers, following a good growing season brought on by the sunny El Niño weather. “If we get the classic symptoms of a La Niña, this will mean that the industry will need to put the ‘pedal to the metal’ and push harder and earlier to try to get the crop out of the ground before the wet season starts,” said Dr Everingham.
She said unfortunately the higher rainfall associated with an emerging La Niña could bring a smaller 2017 crop for cane growers in the wet tropics.
Dr Everingham said a La Niña system could also potentially increase the number of tropical cyclones.
Contact: Associate Professor Yvette Everingham
M: 0459 023 671
P: (07) 4781 4475