El Niño to persist through summer. What does this mean for South Africa?

File picture: Pexels

File picture: Pexels

Published Aug 14, 2023


South Africans can expect a drier and warmer summer as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is currently in an El Niño state, said the SA Weather Service in a statement on Monday.

“The El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is currently in an El Niño state and according to the latest predictions is expected to persist through most of the summer months. ENSO’s impact is still limited for the initial forecast period,” said the organisation.

In simpler terms, this means that summer months are expected to be drier and warmer. It can also mean lower rainfall this coming summer.

The ENSO is a climate phenomena on Earth with an ability to influence global atmospheric circulation.

El Niño has historically been associated with record heat temperatures and droughts in summer rainfall regions of southern Africa. It is also known to result in crop damage and therefore impact the economy.

During the El Niño 2023 Summit that took place in June this year, CSIR senior researcher and ACCESS director, Dr Neville Sweijd, said it is important to pre-empt the impact.

“Although we are certain that an El Niño is manifesting, we are uncertain about what impact it will have at this stage. In the past ( 2015/16), the impact was severe and although we cannot say yet that this season will be equally affected, we must pre-empt the potential impact. It is quite unpredictable by nature, but there is a general pattern that researchers in South Africa have been studying,” said Sweijd.