The strongest seasonally varying ocean-atmosphere signal known is the El Niño Southern Oscillation or ENSO signal (also known as the El Niño and La Niña). These are names given a particular state of the ocean-atmospheric configuration in the Pacific Ocean region, at various thresholds, in a continuously oscillating system. When the system reaches certain thresholds, we may declare that the system is in an El Niño state or La Niña state or a neutral state along a gradient from strong to weak. The extreme state of this system is known to impact global weather. The seasonal climate in southern Africa responds to this signal with generally warmer and drier conditions associated with the El Niño state and cooler wetter conditions in the La Niña state. El Niños have in the past been associated with record heat and droughts in the summer rainfall region, while La Niñas have been associated with flooding.
Researchers in South Africa and around the globe have indicated that the regular monitoring of the ENSO system suggests that a strong El Niño is currently developing in 2023. This is the first such event (following three years of a La Niña phase) since the 2018/19 and 2015/16 events which had a serious impact on our country with significant droughts in various summer rainfall locations. This comes on top of reports of unprecedented global sea surface temperatures and continuously rising average atmospheric temperatures. Should this El Niño manifest as projected, we should expect that this will have significant impact on the coming summer climate and weather in southern Africa.
We have called this meeting to share information with affected sectors, businesses, government departments and any stakeholders who seek to understand the basics of the climate predictions, and to consider how this may impact them. We aim to raise awareness of the pending climate anomaly and start the process of gathering information and information requirements in anticipation of its possible impact across the country. This will be followed up with further briefings as we learn more when we approach the summer rainfall season. We will invite a selected number of experts to present some information, and we will allow for some discussion, questions and answers. This may lead to a follow up event depending on how the predicted El Niño will develop. The questions we will address (along with those from the delegates) include:
• What is the likelihood of this El Nino manifesting?
• When and where may we see impacts?
• How severe may the event be and how may impacts manifest?
• How would various sectors be affected?
• What plans are in place to deal with this and potential resulting emergencies?
• What economic impacts could we anticipate?
• How may this event impact agriculture and food security?
• What does the future look like in terms of ENSO?
Attendance of this event is free, and to participate please register here.
A follow up meeting will be organized to assess the development of this climate event.
A finger lunch will be provided for those present (max 50 pax).
For further information please contact Dr Neville Sweijd (email@example.com / 0829689660)