Seasonal Climate Outlook Message for September to December 2002

The bottom line

El Nino SST Pattern persists (Dated 18/09/02)

The 30day average of the SOI as of the 18th of September is -14.2.

According to recent sea temperature reports sourced from the Climate Prediction Centre in the Unites States and the Bureau of Meteorology an El Nino event is continuing to persist in the Pacific Ocean.

The signs that indicate the continued presence of an El Nino include warmer than normal sea temperatures throughout the central Pacific, above average rainfall over the eastern tropical Pacific and below average rainfall over much of the western Pacific especially Indonesia.

As well, strong westerly wind bursts (rather than the 'normal' south east trade winds) have been recorded along the equator east of the international dateline. Based on previous El Nino's as well as current ocean and atmospheric conditions, it is likely that this pattern will continue through to Autumn 2003.

Therefore the output of reputable long range ocean and coupled ocean/atmosphere forecast models is of interest. Currently 9 of 12 surveyed models predict an El Nino pattern through to January 2003.

Of the 12 models surveyed, 10 provide a forecast through to April 2003. Of these 10 models, 4 predict the continuation of warm sea surface temperatures. It is worth noting however, that while the other 6 models forecast a return to neutral pattern, none predict the potential development of a La Nina next year.

It will be interesting to see what impact the El Nino will have on Queenslands spring and summer rainfall as each El Nino event is different in regard to rainfall patterns and drought areas.

Last updated: 17 September 2002