El Nino weather could lead to high prices

El Nino weather could lead to high prices of soya beans, coffee, rice and cocoa.

The weather conditions are likely to lead to intense heat and drought in West Africa, Latin America and Asia.

The cost of soya beans could go by up to 36.8 per cent, while coffee could increase up to 107 per cent. Cocoa beans and rice are also at risk.

While these are a worst-case scenario, Professor Adam Scaife from the Met Office told the BBC there was a 70 per cent chance of a ‘moderate’ El Nino towards the end of the year, which will still cause droughts and crop failures.

Food stocks could be put under pressure because trade winds that circulate over waters in the tropical Pacific start to weaken, causing sea surface temperatures to rise.

For example, in 2002, a moderately strong El Nino reduced summer monsoon rainfall in India by up to 40 per cent, wiping out £9.6 billion ($15 billion) worth of groundnut and rice crops – three percent of India’s GDP.

Australian meteorologists had warned last week that a large El Nino was on the way, and the Met Office backed up these claims, saying: ‘It could be big, it’s possible. We’re getting a pretty strong signal.’

Major impact

El Nino events occur on average every three to four years and are marked by a build up of warm water in the eastern Pacific off the coast of Ecuador.

They can have a major impact on weather systems and climate, reducing monsoon rainfall in many parts of the tropics, triggering drought.

Last year some forecasters predicted an El Nino but the expected event never occurred, but this year experts around the world are far more certain that an El Nino event has already started and is likely to grow.

The last El Nino five years ago had a major impact with monsoons in Southeast Asia, droughts in southern Australia, the Philippines and Ecuador, blizzards in the United States, heatwaves in Brazil and killer floods in Mexico.

David Jones from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s climate information services branch said: ‘There’s always a little bit of doubt when it comes to intensity forecasts, but across the models as a whole we’d suggest that this will be quite a substantial El Nino event.

‘Certainly the models aren’t predicting a weak event. They are predicting a moderate-to-strong El Nino event. So this is a proper El Nino event, this is not a weak one or a near miss as we saw last year.’

The US National Oceanic and Atmosopheric Administration recently detected warmer than average water surface temperatures around the equator of the Pacific Ocean (shown) which indicates the arrival of El Niño

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