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Australian weather bureau says El Niño has ended

An El Niño weather event has ended, Australian weather authorities have said, adding that they were uncertain if a La Niña phenomenon would form later this year, as other forecasters have predicted.

The cycle between the two is hugely important for farmers worldwide.

El Niño generally brings hotter, drier weather to eastern Australia and Southeast Asia and wetter conditions to the Americas, while a La Niña has the opposite effect.

“El Niño has ended,” Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said, after the weather phenomenon had formed in the middle of last year following three years of La Niña.

Warmer sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific cause El Niño and cooler temperatures lead to La Niña, which a US government weather forecaster this month gave a 60% chance of emerging in the second half of this year.

The sea surface has been cooling since December and oceanic and atmospheric indicators now show the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) has returned to neutral, the Australian weather bureau added.

“Climate models indicate ENSO will likely continue to be neutral until at least July 2024,” it said, using the formal name that describes the switch between the two phases.

While some climate models predict a flip to La Niña later this year, the bureau said it was uncertain whether this would happen and urged caution about such forecasts.

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