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Scientists get a better grip on El Nino

Michael Cavanagh, Thursday May 30, 2013 - 18:20 EST
ABC image
Scientists believe they can now predict the start of the rain to end an El Nino which forms around Christmas off South America leading to drought in Australia's north. - ABC

A team of Sydney climate researchers believe they now have a better understanding of when droughts will end and when rain may fall.

The El Nino climate pattern, which in Australia leads to drier than normal conditions, is triggered by changes to water temperature off the South American coast around Christmas time.

Dr Shayne McGregor, from the University of NSW's Climate Change Research Centre, says while the build up of El Nino is still difficult to predict, the latest findings mean that forecasters will have a better idea of when it would end and bring rain.

He says this will greatly assist farmers in deciding when to plant.

"Late in summer and you are still in your El Nino event and you are experiencing drier than normal conditions, you really want to know if there is any point in planting your crops in the following autumn," he said.

"You know maybe if there is not going to be a lot of rainfall, then you don't do it.

"If we know if the event is going to finish, we can pretty much understand that rainfall should pretty much go back to what normal conditions are."


© ABC 2013

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