El Nino is forecast for second half of 2023, risk of transboundary haze, says Singapore

SINGAPORE, May 30 (Bernama): The Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) is forecasting El Nino conditions to develop in the second half of 2023, noting a 70-80 per cent chance of occurring.

According to MSS, a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is also predicted to develop during this period.

"Both climate phenomena are expected to bring warmer and drier conditions to Singapore and the surrounding region from June to October 2023, and this will increase the risk of transboundary haze affecting Singapore and the region,” it said on its website today.

MSS said there are already signs since earlier this year that support El Nino conditions developing in the next few months.

"These include the warmer subsurface ocean temperatures observed in the eastern tropical Pacific, typically a precursor to El Nino events,” it said.

MSS said El Nino events tend to have the biggest influence on Singapore’s rainfall during the Southwest Monsoon season from June to September and also bring warmer temperatures to the republic.

During the last strong El Nino event in 2015/2016, MSS said Singapore’s total rainfall from June to September 2015 was about 35 per cent below the long-term average.

Singapore’s average temperature over the June-September 2015 period was 28.8 degrees Celsius or 0.6 degree Celsius above its long-term average for that period.

For the period from March-April 2016, Singapore average temperature was 29.2 degrees Celsius or 1.2 degrees Celsius above its long-term average for that period.

MSS noted that El Nino is a major, but not the only, driver of the earth’s climate system.

"The IOD is another climate phenomenon that can influence the weather around the tropical Indian Ocean. Most computer models from global climate centres predict that a positive IOD may develop in the next one to two months,” it said.

During positive IOD events, MSS said sea surface temperatures in the eastern Indian Ocean are cooler, resulting in less cloud formation and below average rainfall in the eastern Indian Ocean and surrounding regions including Sumatra, Peninsular Malaysia, and Singapore.

MSS warned that drier and warmer conditions are conducive to the development of peatland and vegetation fires.

"Therefore, hotspots could escalate from June 2023 under extended periods of drier weather, particularly in fire-prone areas.

"This will increase the risk of transboundary haze affecting Singapore if fires develop in close proximity and prevailing south-easterly to south-westerly winds blow smoke haze from the fires towards Singapore,” it said.

In anticipation of the onset of drier weather, MSS said the government Inter-Agency Haze Task Force (HTF) has been co-ordinating action plans in preparation for possible haze.

MSS also advised members of the public to make preparations such as ensuring that they have sufficient N95 face masks and also ensuring that their air purifiers are in good working condition. - Bernama

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