Amid an unseasonal heat wave, Australia has officially declared El Nino weather phenomenon for the country. Around 60 percent of the world is affected by the phenomenon, and Australia is particularly vulnerable to the effects, said the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM). The coming summer threatened extremely high temperatures and violent bushfires. “In all likelihood, we can expect this summer to be hotter than average and certainly hotter than the last three years,” BoM expert Karl Braganza told reporters.
The World Weather Organization (WMO) had already declared in July that El Nino conditions were prevailing in the tropical Pacific for the first time in several years. This could further increase global temperatures and change regional weather and climate patterns. Governments have been called upon to take precautions to save lives during extreme weather events. The last strong El Nino occurred in 2015/2016.
“Catastrophic” fire danger on the south coast
People in several states, especially in the east and south of Australia, have been sweating in record temperatures for days. In some places these are 10 to 16 degrees above the average values for September. At the start of Australian spring, Sydney already reached a record high temperature of 34.6 degrees Celsius – a new record for this period.
The fire danger on the New South Wales south coast has been upgraded to “catastrophic” due to strong winds, Australian media reported, citing authorities. Accordingly, there are currently 61 forest fires in Australia’s most populous state, with 13 fires out of control. A total fire ban has been imposed for Greater Sydney and southern coastal communities. Around 20 schools were closed as a precaution.
The animal protection organization IFAW also spoke of a “possibly catastrophic summer” and recalled the dramatic consequences of the weeks-long bushfires in 2019/2020. At that time, more than twelve million hectares of land were devastated and countless animals were killed. The authorities are warning of another violent forest fire season. But Australian wildlife can no longer cope with much, said IFAW expert Robert Leach. “I don’t want to imagine what another disastrous summer would mean for the already declining populations of our iconic species.”
El Nino is a natural weather phenomenon that occurs every few years and is associated with warming seawater in the tropical Pacific and weak trade winds. It may bring severe droughts to Australia, Indonesia and other parts of South Asia, while increased rainfall will occur in parts of southern South America, the southern United States, the Horn of Africa and Central Asia. The connection between El Nino and climate change is not yet precisely known. However, the event may exacerbate the consequences of climate change.
sti/pg (afp, ap, dpa, rtr)