Scientists around the world have been watching closely
to see if an El Niño develops this year - a weather phenomenon
in the Pacific that drives extreme weather worldwide.
After initially predicting with
90 per cent certainty we'd see an El Niño by the end of
the year, forecasters began scaling back their predictions
earlier this month.
But interest in the Pacific weather phenomenon shows no sign of
waning. And after much talk of El Niño cooling off, there are
hints it could be rebounding, say scientists.
El Niño watch
Every five years or so, a change in the winds causes a
shift to warmer than normal ocean temperatures in the
equatorial Pacific Ocean - a phenomena known as El
Together, El Niño and its cooler counterpart La Niña
are known as the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Between them,
they're responsible for most of the fluctuations in global
temperature and rainfall we see from one year to the next.
Earlier this year, the ocean looked to be primed for
an El Niño, with above average temperatures in the eastern Pacific
lasting throughout March and May.
But last month, forecasters across the world
dialling down their forecasts. The atmosphere had "largely
failed to respond" to sea surface temperatures, scientists
"Waiting for Godot"
This week, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric
dropped the odds of an El Niño developing in autumn or
winter to 65 per cent, down from 80 per cent
earlier this month. As NOAA scientist, Michelle
"Waiting for El Niño is
starting to feel like Waiting for Godot"