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El Niño ‘strengthens,’ may last till ‘ber’ months

Temperatures are rising further as the El Niño phenomenon strengthens, according to Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (BOM).

In its latest climate advisory, the BOM said current projections have suggested that the phenomenon would last at least into the southern hemisphere spring, which would correspond to the “ber” months in the Philippines.

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“Sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean have exceeded El Niño thresholds for nearly two months, supported by warmer-than-average waters below the surface,” the bureau said.

The Australian agency declared the onset of El Niño only earlier this May, two months behind the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

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According to Emily Becker, a scientist with the US NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, the Australians “have slightly different thresholds of declaring an onset of El Niño.

Latest forecasts from US climate experts suggest that the chance that El Niño will continue through the end of 2015 is greater than 80 percent.

According to the Department of Agriculture, some 47,000 farmers across the Philippines may have lost a total of P2.19 billion to the El Niño and its attendant dry spell.

The latest monitoring report from the DA’s field workers showed that more than half of the damage was felt in rice farms, with 72,109 tons of palay valued at P1.2 billion going to waste.

Also, P958.43 million worth of corn—pegged at 73,622 tons—was also lost.

Further, 1,023 tons of high-value crops like vegetables and root crops valued at P19.46 million are also taking the heat.

The dry spell brought by the unusual warming of the ocean surface in the Pacific has exacted a toll on a total of 57,110 hectares of farms in the Philippines.

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Of such area, crops in almost two-thirds or 36,717 hectares of the affected farms have been written off, without a chance of possible recovery.

The intense heat has burdened rice farms from as far north as Ilocos Norte and Cagayan, and as far south as Sarangani and Davao Del Sur.

However, there is no report yet about the El Niño’s effects in Central Luzon, traditionally considered as the country’s biggest rice-producing region.

Rice farms in the Soccsksargen region bore the brunt of the dry spell, chalking up losses of P532 million worth of palay. SM/RC

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TAGS: Agriculture, Australia, BoM, Bureau of Meteorology, corn, drought, dry spell, El Niño phenomenon, farms, Global Nation, hot weather, Philippines, rice, Weather
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