A recent warming of the Pacific Ocean has led to a 70 per cent chance of an El Niño weather event developing this year, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said on Tuesday.
An El Niño weather event can trigger both floods and drought in different parts of the world and is associated with warmer, dry weather across the Asia Pacific.
Australia’s weather bureau earlier this month pegged the chance of an El Niño developing at 50 per cent.
El Niños are particularly damaging to Australia, with the last one in 2015/16 cutting farm production in the country – among the world’s largest exporters of agricultural products.
Australian farmers will within weeks begin sowing wheat crops and adverse weather could curtail production in the world’s fourth-largest wheat exporter.
A US government weather forecaster last week upped its expectation of weak El Niño conditions persisting through the northern hemisphere spring to 80 per cent, from 55 per cent previously.