Updated on 22 July 2016

The equatorial Pacific Ocean’s sea-surface temperature (SST) anomaly is currently in neutral conditions, i.e. neither El Niño nor La Niña (Figure A). Key atmospheric variables over the equatorial Pacific also indicate neutral conditions. The Niño3.4 index for June 2016 was near zero (0.01) (Figure B) and the latest 3-month average (Apr-Jun) dipped further from 1.1 to 0.5.

With the end of El Niño by June 2016, no significant drier-than-normal, regional scale rainfall anomalies were observed in June (Figure C). Experts’ assessment of international climate models suggests that La Niña conditions are likely to develop (Figure D) with a moderate 60% chance of it developing by the August-October season (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 in neutral conditions over the Niño3.4 region (red box, 120°W-170°W and 5°S-5°N) in June 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 Jul 2015 to Jun 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 Jun 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 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: 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 E: 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 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.