The La Niña climate pattern may emerge in the second half of 2024, shortly after the transition from El Niño to a brief period of conditions considered neutral, in the middle of this year. The forecast was made by a US government meteorological agency this Thursday (8).
The La Niña phenomenon is characterized by exceptionally cold temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean and is associated with floods and droughts, depending on the region.
“Although predictions made during the spring [no hemisfério norte] tend to be less reliable, there is a historical tendency for La Niña to follow strong El Niño events,” said the CPC (Climate Prediction Center) of the National Weather Service.
La Niña typically causes more rain in Australia, Southeast Asia and India and dry weather in grain and oilseed producing regions of the Americas.
In Brazil, La Niña tends to cause an increase in the volume of rain in the North and Northeast regions. In the South, the trend is towards more drought and heat, while, in the Central-West and Southeast, the impacts fluctuate.
The current El Niño weather pattern, which has caused hot, dry weather in Asia and heavier-than-normal rainfall in parts of the Americas, will likely give way to neutral conditions in what scientists call the El Niño Southern Oscillation. [ou ENSO, na sigla em inglês]. This is expected to occur from April to June 2024, the CPC said.
ENSO neutral conditions refer to periods when neither El Niño nor La Niña are present, often coinciding with the transition between the two climate patterns.
“La Niña will likely affect wheat and corn production in the US, and soybean and corn production in Latin America, including Brazil,” said Sabrin Chowdhury, head of commodities at consultancy BMI.
El Niño brought rain to Rio Grande do Sul and Argentina, favoring soybean and corn harvests. The last La Niña resulted in crop failure for crops in Rio Grande do Sul and in the neighboring country.
Recently, India, the world’s biggest rice supplier, restricted exports of the staple following a weak monsoon, while wheat production in the second-largest exporter, Australia, was hit. Palm oil and rice plantations in Southeast Asia received less rain than normal.
“The development of La Niña is beneficial for the Indian monsoon. Normally, the monsoon provides abundant rainfall during La Niña years,” the India Meteorological Department said.
The June-September monsoon, which is vital to India’s $3 billion economy, brings nearly 70% of the rain the country needs to irrigate crops and replenish reservoirs and aquifers.