Whether you believe in climate change or not, man-made or natural, weather patterns are an undeniably interesting area of climate science.

A specific area of interest for many climate scientists are the weather patterns known as El Nino and La Nina. 

A couple of clever cookies, Agus Santoso from the University of New South Wales and Michael McPhaden of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration concluded a recent study where they applied a butterfly effect to computer models to see how small changes in conditions affect eventual El Nino weather patterns.

Why was this an important study you ask? Well, these two weather patterns have major impacts on extreme weather conditions, natural ecosystems, food production and farming in areas across the world including Australia.


Watching Bushfires

But what questions does this study answer? 


As with most things in nature, balance is required to keep the peace, and since 1998 we have been experiencing a lull in the El Nino southern oscillation. (Over Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.)

This study shows what we can expect as a result of this lull or imbalance in the system.

Essentially, these self-organising systems retain somewhat of a “memory” which can have long-lasting effects.

What happens now can affect the future. El Nino in a sense remembers its own past, meaning it will eventually compensate for the suppressed activity with more intense events in the future.

The lull of El Nino activity between 1998 and 2020 amounted to a 13% decrease in El Nino weather patterns such as lifted temperatures due to surface winds moving wind from the tropical pacific.

The modelling from the study shows a projected increase of El Nino variability by as much as 37%

So what does this mean for Australia, a nation already vulnerable to extremely dangerous weather conditions such as bushfires and droughts?

It means we don’t know which decades El Nino will play catch up, but it’s coming, and when it does it will not be good for a country already prone to drought and fire.


So what can you do about it?


Unfortunately not much, made worse by man or natural cycle it doesn’t really matter, It’s going to happen regardless.

The best thing you can do is ensure your home is protected from El Nino weather events.

Especially if you live in an area of higher bushfire risk it’s worthwhile having ember guards installed on your property as well as the Leaf Stopper gutter guard to keep your gutters free of dry leaves and debris that the inevitable bushfires can throw embers at.

To learn more about the recent study check out the article posted by the Sydney morning herald here.



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