La Niña, but not as we know it


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La Niña is one of the three phases of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO)—a climate pattern in the tropical Pacific that cycles every three to seven years, and influences climate right around the world. One area that experiences the biggest impacts of ENSO is Australia.
A La Niña typically brings above-average rainfall to eastern Australia during summer. But from history we know that the strength of a La Niña event often corresponds to the strength of its impacts on the Australian climate.
This year, La Niña is weaker than many past events, so we would not expect an equivalent increase in rainfall. Ocean temperatures around northern Australia and in the eastern Indian Ocean are another factor. Normally during La Niña these are a lot warmer than average, but this time they are closer to normal. As a result, this event is likely to have less influence on rainfall, cloudiness and tropical cyclones than the last La Niña summer we had—the near record strength La Niña in 2010–12.
La Niña isn’t the only factor that drives Australia's climate. Patterns in the Indian and Southern oceans, and around the tropics also play a big role in determining how our climate will play out in the coming months.
Local factors can also play a significant role. Soil moisture, vegetation, and local sea temperatures can all contribute to our climate. And our slowly changing climate patterns also have a background effect. Our models take all of these into account.
Check our latest Climate Outlooks for likely rainfall and temperature conditions in the months ahead.
Our ENSO Outlook is updated fortnightly with the ENSO Wrap-Up. Subscribe to our fortnightly ENSO Wrap-Up email to keep up to date.