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S’pore may be hotter in 2024 than 2023 due to lingering effects of El Nino: MSS report

SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/ANN) -- If droplets of sweat bead your forehead the moment you step outdoors and run down your back despite an umbrella overhead, brace yourself.

El Nino causes hotter and drier weather over South-east Asia, including Singapore.

The hot weather looks set to stay in 2024, and could be even warmer than the temperatures felt in 2023 – the fourth warmest year on record for Singapore, said the national meteorologist on March 23.
The forecast warm weather is due to the lingering effects of a climate phenomenon known as El Nino, which affected Singapore in the second half of 2023.
El Nino causes hotter and drier weather over South-east Asia, including Singapore, due to changes in sea surface temperatures and surface winds over the tropical Pacific Ocean.
“Since the warmest annual temperatures from any El Nino events typically occur the year after an El Nino forms both for Singapore and globally, 2024 could be an even warmer year,” said the Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) in its annual climate assessment report.
The prediction of sweltering conditions in 2024 comes as the weatherman declared 2023 to be Singapore’s joint fourth warmest year since records started in 1929.
The annual average temperature of 28.2 deg C tied with those of 1997 and 2015 – both also El Nino years. The warmest years on record are 2019 and 2016 at 28.4 deg C and 1998 at 28.3 deg C.
In 2023, Singapore was affected by a “double whammy” of climate phenomena that caused warmer than usual temperatures.
Other than El Nino, positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) conditions also beset Singapore in the second half of the year. Similar to El Nino, a positive IOD brings warmer weather to Singapore due to atmospheric and sea surface temperature variations across the Indian Ocean.
Singapore is located between the Pacific and Indian oceans, and can be affected by changes in conditions over both ocean basins.
“Both El Nino and positive Indian Ocean Dipole events are typically associated with warmer temperatures in Singapore, while La Nina tends to moderate Singapore’s temperatures,” said MSS.
While an El Nino event brings warmer, drier conditions over Singapore, its “crybaby” sister, La Nina, dumps more rain over the country. El Nino and La Nina refer to the warm and cool phases of the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (Enso), a natural climate cycle that can significantly affect weather patterns around the world.
In 2023, Singapore experienced both phases of Enso. La Nina conditions, which had developed in Singapore in 2021, ended in the first quarter of 2023.
Yet, despite the cool start to the year, monthly temperatures from April onwards were above their respective long-term averages, MSS said.
The La Nina conditions likely had a moderating effect on Singapore’s temperatures, said an MSS spokeswoman when asked why Singapore’s temperature records did not align with reports of 2023 being the world’s warmest year.
She added that it is expected that individual regions or countries will differ from the ranking for the global average.
In 2023, the warmest temperature anomalies were found mostly in northern regions, such as Western Europe, Northern Canada, and Central Asia, she said.
The MSS report, which covered Singapore’s main climatic features and notable weather records and events in 2023, also pointed out that the last decade – between 2014 and 2023 – has been Singapore’s warmest decade on record at 28.06 deg C.
This is 0.33 deg C warmer than the preceding decade.
MSS said Singapore’s warming patterns are in line with global trends.
The World Meteorological Organisation’s 2023 State of the Climate report showed that the nine years from 2014 to 2023 were the nine warmest years on record globally, and temperatures have been going up over those years.

(Latest Update March 27, 2024)

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