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Australia no longer in an El Niño event

24 April 2024

Key points:

  • Both the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) and El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) are holding neutral, meaning Australia is no longer within an El Niño event, or Positive IOD.
  • Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) fact sheet shows the correlations between climate drivers, rainfall and herd and flock size.
  • The Bureau of Meteorology’s (BOM) 2024 Autumn forecast shows that most of Australia has at least an 80% chance of above-average temperatures and an equal chance of above or below-median rainfall.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) revealed the tropical Pacific Ocean has returned to ENSO-neutral, indicating that Australia is no longer in an active El Niño period. Forward-looking climate models indicate the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) will likely continue neutral until at least July 2024. This is the first time since September 2023 that the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) and ENSO are holding neutral after the IOD was declared neutral in a February 2024 Climate Driver Update.

Source: BOM

Climate forecasts and outlooks are an important aspect of market analysis in agriculture. MLA use long-range forecasts and climate drivers to assist in the development of our projections and our forward-looking market commentary. When using climate forecasts, it is essential to understand their dynamic nature.

MLA has developed a fact sheet (see below) to show the history and impact of the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) and IOD on the cattle herd, sheep flock, and rainfall. This visual provides an overview on an annual basis of the herd and flock size, the SOI and IOD indices charted, and rainfall maps. This fact sheet highlights the relationships, and in some cases non-relationships between IOD, El Niño, and La Niña events against annual rainfall.

Fact sheet 

The fact sheet shows there is not always an obvious link between El Niño and La Niña events and intense dry or wet periods. In 2015, there was an El Niño event and Positive IOD, which is frequently thought to cause extremely low rainfall. However, 2015 resulted in a relatively normal rainfall period across the country. Another example is in 2019, Australia experienced severe drought, without an EL Niño event. The fact sheet also shows the reactive nature of the herd and flock size to consecutive wet seasons and dry seasons.

The fact sheet includes the definitions of the SOI, EL Niño, La Niña and IOD.

Along with the driver update, BOM released their 2024 Autumn long-range forecast, which shows most of Australia has at least an 80% chance of above-average temperatures, and roughly an equal chance of above or below median rainfall.