Chance of La Nina at 50 percent in 2016: Australia's weather bureau

 12 Apr 2016 - 9:23

Chance of La Nina at 50 percent in 2016: Australia's weather bureau
A lake with low levels of water can be seen in a drought affected farming land on the outskirts of Canberra in Australia January 12, 2016.
Reuters/David Gray/Files


By Colin Packham

SYDNEY: The chance of a La Nina in 2016 has increased in recent weeks, with climate models indicating a 50 percent possibility of the weather event emerging this year, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said on Tuesday.

The potential emergence of a La Nina comes as the strongest El Nino in nearly 20 years - which has been linked to serious crop damage, forest fires and flash floods - begins to subside.

La Nina is the opposite of the El Nino weather event that is characterized by warmer waters in the tropical Pacific. While a La Nina can be less damaging than El Nino, severe La Ninas are
also linked to floods, droughts and hurricanes.

"Recent changes in the tropical Pacific Ocean and atmosphere, combined with current climate model outlooks, suggest the likelihood of La Nina in 2016 has increased to around 50 percent," the BOM said.

The bureau had previously indicated that a strong El Nino weather pattern would likely end in the second quarter of 2016 and a La Nina could follow.

Analysts say a La Nina could impact the supply of global grains, particularly wheat and corn - where the United States is the largest exporter of both crops. The weather event is associated with lower-than-average rainfalls over North America.

While global supplies are ample as of now, the only thing that could change that "would be a possible La Nina", said Phin Ziebell, agribusiness economist, National Australia Bank.

Benchmark wheat prices fell to a more than five-year low last month and corn prices hit a 9-1/2-month low amid large world supplies.