Amid an unseasonable heat wave, Australia has officially declared El Niño weather phenomenon for the country. Around 60 percent of the world is affected by the weather phenomenon, and Australia is particularly vulnerable to the effects, the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) announced on Tuesday.

The coming summer threatened extremely high temperatures and violent bushfires. “In all likelihood, we can expect this summer to be hotter than average and certainly hotter than the last three years,” BoM expert Karl Braganza told reporters.

Record temperatures in the east and south

The World Weather Organization (WMO) had already declared in July that El Niño conditions were prevailing in the tropical Pacific for the first time in several years. This could further increase global temperatures and change regional weather and climate patterns. Governments have been called upon to take precautions to save lives during extreme weather events. The last strong El Niño occurred in 2015/2016.

Several states, especially in the east and south of Australia, have been sweating in record temperatures for days. In some places these are 10 to 16 degrees above the average values ​​for September. The fire danger on the New South Wales south coast has been upgraded to “catastrophic” due to strong winds, Australian media reported, citing authorities. Around 20 schools were closed as a precaution.

The animal protection organization IFAW also spoke of a “possibly catastrophic summer” and recalled the dramatic consequences of the weeks-long bushfires in 2019/2020. At that time, more than twelve million hectares of land were devastated and countless animals were killed. The authorities are warning of another violent forest fire season. But Australian wildlife can no longer cope with much, said IFAW expert Robert Leach. “I don’t want to imagine what another disastrous summer would mean for the already declining populations of our iconic species.”

El Niño is a naturally occurring weather phenomenon every few years that is associated with warming seawater in the tropical Pacific and weak trade winds. The event may exacerbate the consequences of climate change. The effects are primarily in Southeast Asia, Australia, Africa and Central America.