Sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific have generally been cooling over the past month, and we are seeing El Niño wane. With all eyes on the crucial upcoming South America crops, questions are abuzz as to what implications this pattern shift may have on future weather there. Concerns are also centered on the impacts on Australia wheat as well as the potential replenishment of soil moisture in the U.S. following the extensive drought.
"It is true that we are seeing a fading El Niño, but this does not mean that we are automatically headed for La Niña," says Don Keeney, senior agricultural meteorologist for MDA EarthSat Weather/CropCast.
"While the easing of El Niño makes the idea of drought-busting rains in the U.S. and ideal growing conditions in South America less certain, the current trend away from El Niño does imply that the tropical Pacific will have less influence on weather patterns in most areas," adds Keeney.
Furthermore, a weaker El Niño-Southern Oscillations (ENSO) allows for other circulation patterns, or teleconnections, to have a stronger impact on the overall weather pattern going forward, as each contain variable results for temperature and precipitation signals. The bottom line is that the fading El Niño will likely lead to less certainty and increased variability in the long range outlooks for many areas including the U.S., South America and Australia.