SYDNEY - The El Nino in the Pacific Ocean is growing and expected to continue, raising temperatures and reducing rainfall into next year, Australia's Bureau of Meteorology said on Tuesday.
In a statement posted on its website, the bureau said the ocean surface temperature in all monitoring areas has been more than 1 degree Celsius above average for 10 successive weeks - which is two weeks longer than the record in 1997. "All international climate models surveyed by the Bureau of Meteorology indicate El Nino is likely to strengthen, and is expected to persist into early 2016," the statement said.
Warming has been exacerbated by weaker or reversed trade winds over large parts of the tropical Pacific Ocean. El Nino events typically peak in the late southern hemisphere spring or early summer before weakening in the new year, the bureau added.
A strong El Nino, which can lead to scorching weather across Asia and east Africa but heavy rains and floods in South America, will roil economies that are heavily dependent on agriculture. It would also unhinge supply chains of commodities such as rice, corn and palm oil.
Australia has already slashed its production forecast for wheat, cotton and other agricultural commodities in fiscal 2015/16 as the weather phenomenon grips the country and dries out farmland for the second time in five years.
Earlier this month, Japan's weather bureau said the El Nino was continuing, reiterating that there was a strong possibility it would continue into winter, while a U.S. government weather forecaster warned it was likely to last another nine months.