What Europe and America's current El Nino heatwaves mean for the coming Australian summer
An El Nino weather pattern has led to heatwaves and wildfires in Europe, the US and , and Australians are worried about what may be heading their way in summer. Italy is bracing for an expected high of 48C - potentially the hottest ever in Europe - while China has already recorded its highest ever temperature of 52.2C in Sanbao. The dread in Australia is particularly acute with the devastating still fresh in people's minds, as are the three wet summers that followed. 'If we have an El Nino supercharged by , then we could be in for a very bad summer,' Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick of UNSW Canberra said. An El Nino weather pattern 'brings a higher chance of hot, dry weather in much of Australia,' climate expert Andrew King of the University of Melbourne wrote on website. Dr Perkins-Kirkpatrick told she is 'very concerned (with the heatwaves in Europe and the US) because these events are just persisting for so long'. Dr King said it's still too early to say whether Australia is in for a scorching summer, but that 'global warming will bring more record-high temperatures in Australia'. The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) agrees with him and has yet to call call an El Nino for Australia as it has stricter criteria for doing so than the World Meteorological Organization, which has already declared El Nino. The BOM requires a full atmospheric response to changes in the Pacific Ocean, known as coupling. The Pacific is showing an El Nino state with warm water along the equator, but the weather patterns are still not displaying a typical El Nino state, with trade winds and pressure patterns, for example, currently near normal. Meteorologist Dr Adam Morgan told ABC's News Breakfast that ' 'What we do know is that oceans are warm everywhere right now. 'We have got really warm oceans off of Europe, really warm oceans off of places like Korea where we are seeing lots of monsoonal rains, so that gives us the ability to have higher temperatures,' he said. The BOM is on 'alert' for an El Nino summer, saying models indicate further warming is likely, with sea surface temperatures remaining above El Nino thresholds until at least the end of the year. And though the bureau has not called an El Nino, it has issued a long-range forecast of warmer and drier conditions across much of Australia for August to October. But many, including ABC meteorologist Tom Saunders, believe it may just a matter of time before the BOM calls an El Nino for Australia. 'Major bushfires are certainly possible for the first time in four years due to the vegetation growth, but it will also come down to weather patterns during the spring and summer,' . 'If we see the right combination of a dry spring/summer and bursts of strong westerly winds then yes, major bushfires are likely.' Dr King said there's one factor working in Australia's favour in the slim hope of avoiding an El Nino summer. 'The particular atmospheric pattern bringing extremes to the Northern Hemisphere isn't replicated in the Southern Hemisphere, because we have more ocean and less land,' he said. But he added that 'Australia does experience its own ... high pressure patterns which also bring major heatwaves and extreme rain events'. One way or another, Australia is probably in for a hot and dry summer of 2023-2024.