Climate Driver Update history
Climate drivers in the Pacific, Indian and Southern oceans and the Tropics

For rainfall and temperature long-range forecasts for Australia, please see our long-range forecast page. It provides the best guidance for likely conditions in the coming months, with the Bureau's climate model taking into account all influences from the oceans and atmosphere when generating its long-range forecasts. The Climate Driver Update provides insight into the state of the main drivers likely influencing current conditions.


Average of international model outlooks for Relative Niño3.4

Average of international model outlooks for IOD


Sea surface temperature maps

Sea surface temperature maps are not available for forecasts before Spring 2018

Global sea surface temperature forecasts for the months and season ahead. Anomalies indicate the difference from normal.

Sea surface temperature maps (select map for larger view)

SST forecasts for the next 3 months

Pacific Ocean

NINO3.4 SST plumes from Bureau model forecasts, updated daily
Select to see full-size map of NINIO3.4 SST plumes from Bureau model forecasts, updated daily.

International climate model outlooks

Nino 3.4 2 month outlook
Graph details

The graphs are based on the ensemble mean for the most recent model run.

These graphs show the average forecast value of NINO3.4 for each international model surveyed for the selected calendar month. If the bars on the graph are approaching or exceeding the blue dashed line, there is an increased risk of La Niña. Similarly, if the bars on the graph are approaching or exceeding the red dashed line, there is an increased chance of El Niño.

Weekly sea surface temperatures

Graphs of the table values

Monthly sea surface temperatures

Graphs of the table values

5-day sub-surface temperatures

Monthly temperatures

Southern Oscillation Index

30-day SOI values for the past two years
Select to see full-size map of 30-day Southern Oscillation Index values for the past two years, updated daily.

Trade winds

5-day SST and wind anomaly from TAO/TRITON
Select to see full-size map of 5-day SST and wind anomaly from TAO/TRITON.

Cloudiness near the Date Line

The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) compares sea surface temperatures. An IOD negative state, having warmer than average sea surface temperatures near Australia, provides more moisture for frontal systems and lows crossing Australia.

IOD SST plume graph from Bureau model forecasts
IOD SST plume graph from Bureau model forecasts


International climate model forecasts


Latest IOD forecast
Graph details

The graphs are based on the ensemble mean for the most recent model run.

Thse graphs show the average forecast value of the IOD index for each international model surveyed for the selected calendar month. If the majority of models are approaching or exceeding the blue dashed line, then there is an increased risk of a negative IOD event. If the majority of models are approaching or exceeding the red dashed line, then there is an increased risk of a positive IOD event.

The Southern Annular Mode, or SAM, refers to the north-south shift of rain-bearing westerly winds and weather systems in the Southern Ocean compared to the usual position.

The Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) is the major fluctuation in tropical weather on weekly to monthly timescales. It can be characterised as an eastward moving 'pulse' of cloud and rainfall near the equator that typically recurs every 30 to 60 days.

Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) for August 2023 were warmer than average over almost all of the equatorial Pacific Ocean. SST anomalies more than 0.8 °C warmer than the long term average (1961–1990) were present over much of the tropical Pacific, increasing to more than 3 °C warmer than average in the eastern tropical Pacific. Much of the southern Pacific was also warmer than average for August.

Compared to July, warm anomalies have strengthened across the central and western equatorial Pacific.

Warm SST anomalies also continued in the southern Tasman Sea, between south-east Australia and New Zealand, and have slightly decreased compared to last month. Warm anomalies have spread to surround most of eastern and south-eastern Australia. Compared to last month, SSTs have warmed and are closer to average across much of Western Australia.

Globally, April to August 2023 SSTs were the warmest on record (since 1900) for their respective months. In the ERSSTv5 dataset, the global area-average SSTs for April, May, June, July and August were respectively 0.69 °C, 0.70 °C, 0.71 °C, 0.80 °C and 0.75 °C above their long term average (1961–1990). August 2023 SSTs were also the warmest globally for any month since the observational record began in 1854.

For week ending 17 September 2023, sea surface temperatures (SSTs) were warmer than average across almost all the equatorial region of the tropical Pacific Ocean. Anomalies were more than 2 °C warmer than average in the eastern tropical Pacific, increasing to more than 3 °C warmer than average in small areas along the equator in the eastern Pacific. Compared to last week, some of the warmth in the tropical Pacific has shifted westwards. Atypical to a normal El Niño pattern, warm anomalies continue to persist in the south-west Pacific from the east of the Solomon Islands extending south-eastwards to Tahiti.

Closer to Australia, warmer than average waters persist along the east Australian coastline, with up to 2 °C above average along the north-east and south-east coasts of Tasmania. There are also warm SST anomalies in patchy areas of south-west WA, and in the southern Tasman Sea, from south-east Australia to the South Island of New Zealand.

The latest values of the three NINO indices for week ending 17 September 2023 were: NINO3, +1.89 °C; NINO3.4, +1.39 °C; and NINO4, +1.12 °C.

Persistent NINO3 or NINO3.4 values warmer than +0.8 °C are typical of El Niño, while persistent values cooler than −0.8 °C typically indicate La Niña.

The 30-day Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) for the period ending 17 September 2023 was −15.8. The 60– and 90-day SOI values were −13.5 and −7.8, respectively.

Sustained negative values of the SOI below −7 typically indicate El Niño, while sustained positive values above +7 typically indicate La Niña.

Trade winds for the 5 days ending 17 September 2023 were slightly weaker than average in the far western equatorial Pacific, but generally close to average elsewhere.

Trade winds for August 2023 were slightly weaker than average across the Pacific for the first time since January 2020.

During El Niño, there is a sustained weakening, or even reversal, of trade winds across much of the tropical Pacific, while during La Niña, there is a sustained strengthening of trade winds.

The Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO) is currently weak and is forecast to remain weak over the coming week.

The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) index was +1.25 °C for week ending 17 September. This is its fifth week above the positive IOD threshold (+0.40 °C). The longevity of this trend, combined with the strength of the dipole being observed and forecast, indicate a positive IOD event is underway.

Weekly sea surface temperatures (SSTs) for the week ending 17 September show warmer waters close to the Horn of Africa over the western pole of the IOD. Conversely, the eastern pole of the IOD was cooler than average, with a notable area of cooler waters extending southwards from Java. This shows a clear gradient between western and eastern tropical Indian Ocean that is typical of a positive IOD. Compared to last week, the cooling has expanded westwards from Java and the warm anomalies have slightly warmed over the western pole of the IOD.

All international climate models surveyed by the Bureau suggest the positive IOD event is likely to continue for the remainder for spring. A positive IOD typically leads to reduced spring rainfall for central and south-east Australia. When a positive IOD and El Niño occur together, their drying effect is typically stronger and more widespread across Australia.

Cloudiness near the Date Line has fluctuated around average levels since late April.

Equatorial cloudiness near the Date Line typically increases during El Niño (negative OLR anomalies) and decreases during La Niña (positive OLR anomalies).

The 4-month sequence of equatorial Pacific sub-surface temperature anomalies (to August 2023) shows warm anomalies across most of the top 150 m of the equatorial Pacific band, except in the far west. Anomalies increase in magnitude eastwards across the equatorial Pacific band, with the far west close to average and the eastern Pacific more than 2 °C warmer than average.

The past 3 months have seen sub-surface heat shift towards the eastern Pacific, between the surface and 150 m depth. However, warm anomalies in the eastern Pacific have cooled slightly. Temperatures have decreased in the western Pacific such that most of the water column is now mostly close to average.

For the 5 days ending 17 September 2023, sub-surface temperatures were warmer than average across the upper levels of the equatorial Pacific between the surface to around 125 m depth. Much of this region was more than 2 °C warmer than average, with anomalies more than 4 °C warmer than average in some small parts of the eastern Pacific.

Compared to 2 weeks ago, warm anomalies in the eastern Pacific have slightly decreased.

An El Niño and a positive IOD are underway.

The declaration of these events, and their concurrence over spring, reinforces the Bureau's long-range rainfall and temperature forecasts, which continue to predict warmer and drier conditions for much of Australia over the next three months. The confirmation of an established El Niño increases the likelihood that the event will be sustained through the summer period.

Oceanic indicators firmly exhibit an El Niño state. Central and eastern Pacific sea surface temperatures (SSTs) continue to exceed El Niño thresholds. Models indicate further warming of the central to eastern Pacific is likely.

Broadscale pressure patterns over the tropical Pacific reflect El Niño, with the 90-day Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) at −7.7. Recent trade wind strength has been generally close to average, but was slightly weaker than average across the tropical Pacific in August 2023 for the first time since January 2020.

Overall, there are signs that the atmosphere is responding to the pattern of SSTs in the tropical Pacific and coupling of the ocean and atmosphere has started to occur. This coupling is a characteristic of an El Niño event and is what strengthens and sustains an event for an extended period. Climate models indicate this El Niño is likely to persist until at least the end of February. El Niño typically leads to reduced spring and early summer rainfall for eastern Australia, and warmer days for the southern two-thirds of the country.

A positive Indian Ocean Dipole is underway. The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) index is +1.25 °C for week ending 17 September. This is its fifth week above the positive IOD threshold (+0.40 °C). The longevity of this trend, combined with the strength of the dipole being observed and forecast, indicate a positive IOD event is underway. All models predict this positive IOD will persist to at least the end of spring. A positive IOD typically leads to reduced spring rainfall for central and south-east Australia.

When a positive IOD and El Niño occur together, their drying effect is typically stronger and more widespread across Australia.

The Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO) is currently weak and is forecast to remain weak over the coming week.

The Southern Annular Mode (SAM) index is currently negative and is expected to remain negative for at least the coming week, before a possible return to neutral late in September. During spring, a negative SAM is associated with decreased rainfall across parts of the east in both NSW and Victoria, and increased rainfall over western Tasmania.

The long-range forecast for Australia indicates warmer and drier than average conditions are likely across most of southern and eastern Australia from October to December. The Bureau's climate model takes into account all influences from the oceans and atmosphere when generating its long-range forecasts.

Global warming

Global warming continues to influence Australian and global climate. Global sea surface temperatures (SSTs) were warmest on record for their respective months during April to August 2023. August 2023 SSTs were also the warmest globally for any month since observational records began in 1850. July and August 2023 were also respectively the hottest and second-hottest months globally in terms of 2-metre air temperature.

Australia’s climate has warmed by an average of 1.48 ± 0.23 °C since national records began in 1910. There has also been a trend towards a greater proportion of rainfall from high intensity, short duration rainfall events, especially across northern Australia. Southern Australia has seen a reduction, by 10 to 20%, in cool season (April to October) rainfall in recent decades. This is due to a combination of natural variability on decadal timescales and changes in large-scale circulation caused by an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

The Southern Annular Mode (SAM) index is currently negative and is expected to remain negative over the coming week before returning to neutral late in September. During spring, a negative SAM is associated with decreased rainfall across eastern parts of both NSW and Victoria, and increased rainfall over western Tasmania.

Central and eastern Pacific sea surface temperatures (SSTs) currently exceed El Niño thresholds. International climate models suggest some further warming of the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean is likely. All surveyed models indicate SSTs will remain above El Niño thresholds until at least the end of the 2023–24 southern hemisphere summer.

Bureau long-range forecasts are for SSTs up to 2.5 °C warmer than average off eastern Tasmania and in the eastern Tasman Sea from October to the end of 2023.

El Niño typically increases the chance of below average winter–spring rainfall in eastern Australia and warmer than average days for the southern two-thirds of Australia.

Product code: IDCKGEWW00

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