Hong Kong: Climate scientists have announced the discovery of certain Indian Ocean climate patterns which they say could give up to 14 months' warning before the onset of an El Nino – a weather anomaly that primarily impacts countries around the Pacific rim as well as southern Africa and at times even Europe.
Current templates allow scientists to provide no more than a few months' notice on the build-up of an El Nino. This is usually not sufficient for farmers, fishermen and others to prepare for severe disruptions in weather patterns that it brings.
El Nino heralds a major change in rainfall patterns, ushering in floods and mudslides in usually arid regions in western South America and drought in the western Pacific. It also alters patterns of nutrient-rich ocean currents that attract fish.
The El Nino phenomenon is cyclical, occurring every two to seven years, and is indicated when trade winds that circulate surface water in the tropical Pacific begin to weaken. This leads to the build up of a mass of warm water in the western Pacific which eventually transfers to the eastern side of the ocean.
Now, in a paper published in Nature Geoscience, meteorologists in Japan and France said a new forecast model built by them could predict the onset of an El Nino 14 months ahead of time, which would be well ahead of the warning period now available through current methods.
Meteorologists led by Takeshi Izumo of the Research Institute for Global Change in Yokohama, Japan, said their model would operate through early warnings received from a similar event that occurs in the Indian Ocean.