At the end of November 2019, about 150 bush and bush fires were still burning in NSW, with more than 60 remaining out of control. Several million hectares of land have already been damaged; The smoke from the fires even reached South America. However, the Australian Meteorological Agency has now warned The worst weeks for the country are yet to comeEastern Australia in particular – which has been hit hard by the fires so far – is expected to remain significantly drier and hotter next summer than the long-term average. Among other things, conditions in the Indian Ocean off the Australian west coast are to blame.
One of the strongest positively charged dipoles in the Indian Ocean (IOD) ever measured was found there. The IOD defines the normal deviation of water temperatures in the western and eastern part of the sea. If the water in front of Australia (and Indonesia) is too cold on average, the IOD is positive – which has far-reaching consequences for the weather: it rains very little in parts of Australia and Indonesia, while there is more rain vice versa. in East Africa.
What does this mean for the Australian summer? Regionally, only 20 to 40 percent of the usual rain fell in the particularly affected areas of New South Wales and Victoria. Some areas had a dry period on record between August and October (complete data is available), according to the Meteorological Agency. The fire statistics are disastrous: the number of fires is higher than in any other year since the turn of the millennium.
Because of these conditions, the weather agency fears that the situation will deteriorate, at least at the beginning of summer. IOD usually weakens at this time of year, so it is expected to last until January 2020 – prolonging heat and drought accordingly. In contrast, the onset of the Australian monsoon, which will eventually bring rain, has been postponed until at least mid-January or February. “These projections also mean that the risks of harmful heat waves are increasing,” says Andrew Watkins of the Met Office.
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