Updated on 19 August 2016

The equatorial Pacific Ocean’s sea-surface temperature (SST) anomaly is presently in neutral conditions (Jul 2016), i.e. neither El Niño nor La Niña (Figure A). Key atmospheric variables over the equatorial Pacific also continue to indicate neutral conditions. The Niño3.4 index for July 2016 was    -0.35 (Figure B) and the latest 3-month average (May-July) dipped from 0.5 to 0.01.

With neutral conditions since June 2016, no significant drier-than-normal, regional scale rainfall anomalies were observed for the region in July (Figure C). Experts’ assessment of international climate models suggests that there is a 60% chance of La Niña conditions developing in the October – December season (Figure D) and it is likely to be weak (Figure E).

Impact of El Niño/La Niña on Southeast Asia

Typically the impact from La Niña for Southeast Asia is wetter-than-normal rainfall conditions, especially for the southern parts of the region (Maritime Continent) during June to October (Figure F). During El Niño events the opposite, i.e. drier-than-normal conditions, normally occurs. Locally-specific impact differs from place to place and for different seasons.

No two El Niño events or two La Niña events are alike in terms of their impact on the region’s rainfall and temperature. Furthermore, the strength of events and the corresponding impact do not always scale. For example, there were years where relatively weaker El Niño events induced more significant changes in rainfall than the stronger events.

    Figure A: On average the tropical Pacific Ocean was within neutral conditions over the Niño3.4 region (red box, 120°W-170°W and 5°S-5°N) in July 2016 (image credit: IRI Map Room). Warm colour shades show regions of relative warming, while cool colour shades show regions of relative cooling with respect to 1971-2000 climatology for that month.

 

    Figure B: Monthly sea-surface temperature (SST) anomaly over the Niño3.4 region (120°W-170°W and 5°S-5°N) of the tropical Pacific Ocean from Aug 2015 to Jul 2016 (image credit: IRI Map Room). Both SST and atmospheric responses over the tropical Pacific Ocean indicate neutral conditions (neither El Niño nor La Niña).

 

    Figure C: Spatial rainfall anomaly patterns in the region for July 2016 (image credit: IRI Map Room). Brown (green) colour shades show drier (wetter) than the average climatological rainfall for May (1970 – 2009). In general, the characteristic large-scale drying over the Maritime Continent due to El Niño is not observed, which is consistent with the end of El Niño since May 2016. Quantitative anomaly values are only indicative due to limitations in the data source.

 

    Figure D: Probability of El Niño (red), La Niña (blue) and neutral conditions (green) for second half of 2016 and early 2017. La Niña conditions are favoured over neutral conditions during this period (image credit: IRI-CPC).

 

    Figure E: Forecasts of Niño3.4 index’s strength for second half of 2016 and early 2017 from various seasonal prediction models of international climate centres. Values above 0.5°C indicate El Niño conditions, below -0.5°C indicate La Niña conditions, and in between indicate neutral conditions, i.e. neither El Niño nor La Niña. Models predict possibility of La Niña conditions occurring in the second half of 2016 (image credit: IRI-CPC).

 

    Figure F: June to October rainfall anomaly composite for La Niña years minus El Niño years. In general, green colour shades show regions where La Niña induce wetter conditions and El Niño induce drier conditions, while regions in brown shades show the opposite effect, i.e. La Niña inducing drier conditions and El Niño inducing wetter conditions (image credit: IRI Data Library). Note that this anomaly composite has been put together with limited number El Niño/La Niña occurrences between 1979 and 2015 and therefore should be interpreted with caution.
El Niño/La Niña
  • For El Niño/La Niña updates, MSS assesses information provided by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and  various international climate centres, such as the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) US, the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) Australia, as well information from the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) which contains model outputs from various other centres around the world. For more information on El Niño/La Niña, please refer to the FAQs website.