El Niño continues to weaken, says Aussie experts
The El Niño weather phenomenon continued to weaken in the tropical Pacific with ocean waters found at their coolest in 14 months, according to Australian climate experts.
“Temperatures below the ocean surface have cooled steadily, with only the top 50 meters more than one degree Celsius warmer than normal,” the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) in Australia said in its latest update.
“It is likely this is the coolest this top layer of ocean has been since January 2015,” the agency added.
The bureau added that such changes in the ocean were reflected in atmospheric conditions, including wind direction.
“However, some indicators, such as cloudiness near the [international] date line, have been slower to respond and still show a clear El Niño signal.
Citing projections based on climate models from various climate agencies worldwide, the BoM said the El Niño would continue to weaken during the southern autumn [spring in the northern hemisphere] and will return to neutral levels by mid-2016.
A “neutral” scenario means there is neither El Niño nor La Niña, which has opposite effects in terms of the amount of rainfall.
Earlier this month, the Philippine Statistics Authority said the prolonged dry spell pushed down the forecast palay output in the first quarter of 2016 to 4.07 million tons, which was 300,000 tons or 6.8 percent lower compared to the actual harvest last year.
The PSA said in its latest quarterly production outlook the volume may decrease amid lower yield and smaller area harvested.
“Probable decreases in production, harvest area, and yield could be due to the insufficient water supply and intense heat brought about by prolonged dry spell during the reproductive and maturing stages of the crop,” the PSA said.
Also, the adverse effects of typhoon “Nona,” which ravaged farms in the northern part of the country last December, may result to smaller harvest areas in Cagayan as well as lower yield in Aurora.