It was only a matter of time. NCAR’s Kevin Trenberth plays the never ending blame game.
Scientists see climate change link to Australian floods
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Climate change has likely intensified the monsoon rains that have triggered record floods in Australia’s Queensland state, scientists said on Wednesday, with several months of heavy rain and storms still to come.
But while scientists say a warmer world is predicted to lead to more intense droughts and floods, it wasn’t yet possible to say if climate change would trigger stronger La Nina and El Nino weather patterns that can cause weather chaos across the globe.
“I think people will end up concluding that at least some of the intensity of the monsoon in Queensland can be attributed to climate change,” said Matthew England of the Climate Change Research Center at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.
“The waters off Australia are the warmest ever measured and those waters provide moisture to the atmosphere for the Queensland and northern Australia monsoon,” he told Reuters.
The rains have been blamed on one of the strongest La Nina patterns ever recorded. La Nina is a cooling of ocean temperatures in the east and central Pacific, which usually leads to more rain over much of Australia, Indonesia and other parts of Southeast Asia.
This is because the phenomena leads to stronger easterly winds in the tropics that pile up warm water in the western Pacific and around Australia. Indonesia said on Wednesday it expected prolonged rains until June.
Prominent U.S. climate scientist Kevin Trenberth said the floods and the intense La Nina were a combination of factors.
He pointed to high ocean temperatures in the Indian Ocean near Indonesia early last year as well as the rapid onset of La Nina after the last El Nino ended in May.
“The rapid onset of La Nina meant the Asian monsoon was enhanced and the over 1 degree Celsius anomalies in sea surface temperatures led to the flooding in India and China in July and Pakistan in August,” he told Reuters in an email.
He said a portion, about 0.5C, of the ocean temperatures around northern Australia, which are more than 1.5C above pre-1970 levels, could be attributed to global warming.
Read the entire news article here
Below is the Nino3.4 index from the WUWT Enso/Sea level page here
Note that in late 2007 and early 2008, a La Niña even deeper than the one we are in now occurred. Now we are quickly coming off a strong El Niño, so no doubt there would be some heat left in SST’s and some additional water vapor in the region. The current SST image shows it rather warm around Australia. Of course, it is summer there. You can also see the current strong La Niña in blue