A devastating cyclone that tore through two Asian nations more than 6,000 kilometres away could trigger a “chain reaction” that would see serious consequences felt by Australia in the coming months.
The deadly tropical Cyclone Mocha, which caused immense destruction in Myanmar and Bangladesh earlier in May, may have set off a string of climate events that will mean a hot and dry spring this year.
“What we saw with Cyclone Mocha is that it was a severe tropical cyclone in the right place at the right time,” Weatherzone’s Ben Domensino told Yahoo News Australia.
Or, from our perspective, the wrong place at the wrong time.
Australia could be ‘sandwiched’ by hot, dry systems
The meteorologist was referring to a research paper that explains how cyclones over the Indian Ocean at a particular time of year can change the air pressure balance and lead to a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) developing, which would see less rainfall over southern Australia and the Top End.
“Tropical cyclones over the the Bay of Bengal can be a trigger for a sequence of events that lead to a positive IOD,” Mr Domensino said. We don’t yet know if that chain reaction is underway but it’s looking increasingly likely that sequence is being initiated, he added, saying we will know for sure in “a few more weeks”.
Climate models were pointing to the likely potential of a positive IOD before the powerful storm emerged in mid May, “but Cyclone Mocha could potentially be the trigger that gets it going.”
Amid warnings of a ‘super’ El Niño emerging later this year, it’s not exactly great news for Australia as we stare down the barrel of a dangerous end to 2023.
“They can enhance each other,” Mr Domensino said of the positive IOD and El Niño combination.
“You’ve effectively got dry influences from the east and the west, so Australia is kind of sandwiched between these two climate drivers that are both in a dry phase,” he explained. If they both come to pass, that would increase the chances we see an “abnormally dry and warm” winter, spring and early summer.
Warnings of impending ‘super’ El Niño
Earlier this month, Early Warning Network meteorologist Ken Kato warned Australia could face heightened bushfire risk with what he described as a supercharged El Niño.
Admitting it wasn’t an official term, he said the expected El Niño “looks like it will probably be a really strong one”. The system can cause drier than normal conditions that tend to encompass large regions of eastern Australia as well as some northern parts of the country.
“These are the type of weather conditions that increase the risk of bushfires spreading rapidly,” he said.
“It also increases frost risk, increases the risk of coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef and also often causes fewer tropical cyclones on average.”
with NCA Newswire
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