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Ocean temperatures around Australia 0.5C above June average as UN declares an El Niño

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Ocean temperatures around Australia last month were 0.5C above average, as the UN’s weather agency declared the world was now in an El Niño.

El Niño events influence weather extremes around the globe and for Australia increase the risk of drought, heatwaves, bushfires and coral bleaching.

The World Meteorological Organization declared the El Niño late on Tuesday, following on from the US government’s weather agency’s declaration last month.

The El Niño is associated with higher than average sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific that pump extra heat into the atmosphere.

Together with global heating, climate scientists say the El Niño event could push global average temperatures to all-time record highs this year or – more likely – next year.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology stopped short of declaring an El Niño on Tuesday. Despite sea surface temperatures in the central Pacific already surpassing the El Niño threshold, the bureau said changes in winds, clouds and atmospheric pressure also associated with El Niño “have not yet been observed”.


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