Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology has formally declared an El Niño weather event, meaning one is under way for the first time in eight years.
El Niño is a major climate driver linked to hot, dry weather, which can increase the risk of bushfires in Australia.
The major climate event impacts the weather patterns of 60 per cent of the globe, with Australia particularly vulnerable to its impacts.
Federal Emergency Services Minister Murray Watt says El Niño increases the risk of hot weather that has not been experienced since the Black Summer of 2019–20.
“And while there’s been a lot of focus on bushfires, and understandably so, one of the other risks that we face this year is heatwaves, which of course are the silent killer of Australians,” he says.
“Actually, we lose more people to heatwaves every year than we do from other forms of natural disasters.”
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will meet with emergency services personnel and experts next week.
“This is because we’ve anticipated this coming,” he said following the El Niño announcement from the Bureau.
“The warnings are there. The science is there that our climate is changing. And unfortunately, we are seeing that on the ground as we saw during the summer of 2019–2020.”
Following record temperatures throughout June, July and August in the northern hemisphere’s summer, temperatures in the first two weeks of September also have scientists concerned. In fact, 2023 is on track to be hottest year on record.