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Why We Need To Prepare For A Sizzling Sydney Summer 

The Bureau of Meteorology has upgraded its El Niño status from a “watch” to an “alert”, indicating a 70 per cent chance of a sweltering and dry summer ahead.

El Niño describes changes in the tropical Pacific Ocean that affect global weather, and it occurs on average every three to five years.

This climatic event often leads to drier conditions in eastern Australia, while the southern two-thirds of the country will experience a higher probability of above-average temperatures.

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So, how common is it to swing straight from a La Niña to El Niño? How big is the risk that this could result in dangerous heat waves, bushfires and droughts?

On today’s episode of This Arvo In Sydney, host Sacha Barbour Gatt spoke to Dr Thomas Mortlock, a senior analyst at Aon and an adjunct Fellow at the Climate Change Research Centre at UNSW, to explore the extent to which climate change contributes to these extreme weather events.

To better understand the wild weather changes, we first need to answer the question of what are El Niño and La Niña events.

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Dr Mortlock said El Niño and La Niña events are a natural part of the global climate system.

El Niño events are related to the warming of the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, while La Niña events are the reverse, with a sustained cooling of these same areas.

Now, most people know that we’ve just been through a period of three back-to-back La Niña events, which is actually quite rare,”

Dr Mortlock said.

It’s the first time we’ve seen in the historical record for the past 22 years,”

he added.

He said the Bureau of Meteorology had already turned on the El Niño alert, witnessing warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures forming in the eastern Pacific.

I think really the concern at the moment is that because of the absence of El Niño and the period of wetter than normal conditions, we’ve had some significant fuel growth across the landscape.”

Hosted by Sacha Barbour, This Arvo in Sydney is a 10 to 12 minute daily news podcast made just for Sydney! Listen now on the Listnr app.