Seasonal Climate Outlook Message for March to June 2010

The bottom line

El Niño climate pattern is breaking down Dave McRae, Qld Climate Change Centre of Excellence, 15/03/10.

According to the latest ENSO Wrap-up from the Bureau of Meteorology, while there is still a typical El Niño climate pattern present in the Pacific, the surveyed global climate models indicate a gradual breakdown of the EL Niño will occur during autumn with only a low chance of the El Niño redeveloping.

This expectation is reflected by a distinct cooling trend in sea surface temperatures (SST) throughout the eastern Pacific. There has also been a distinct warming trend in SST's around northern Australia.

As autumn is the key transition time for the development and breakdown of El Niño and La Niña events we recommend monitoring SST and SOI values over the next couple of months. For more information on the breakdown of the current El Niño event go to the ENSO Wrap-up from the Bureau of Meteorology

As the autumn predictability gap approaches it will be interesting to see what direction the SOI takes. At this a time of year consistently negative values are not a major concern. However if the SOI does not return to more positive values during autumn it would be a warning sign for a likely drier winter/spring.

As of the 15th March the 30 day average of the SOI is minus 9.1. This is up from minus 18.6 at the start of the month. Daily updates on the SOI are available at or to receive the latest SOI values e-mail

Last updated: 14 March 2010