SYDNEY • The strongest El Nino in nearly 20 years, which damaged crop production in Asia and caused food shortages, has ended, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said yesterday.
Climate indicators associated with El Nino, which emerged last year, have now returned to neutral levels, the bureau said.
El Nino brings a warming of sea surface temperatures in the Pacific which can lead to scorching weather across Asia and eastern Africa but heavy rains and floods in South America.
The latest El Nino resulted in sea temperatures rising to their highest levels in 19 years, causing drier- than-average weather which resulted in a fall in production of wheat, palm oil and rice in Asia.
The end of El Nino was not unexpected, with climate indicators cooling in recent months, but the Australian bureau is the first major meteorology agency to declare the end of the phenomenon.
Farmers will now be looking for the development of a La Nina weather pattern, which typically brings wetter weather across the Asian region. The bureau said there is a 50 per cent chance of a La Nina emerging.
One private weather forecaster in New Delhi said yesterday that India could experience its highest monsoon rainfall since 1994 as the odds of a La Nina increase.