Looks like La Niña is planning to hang around this winter ... again.
La Niña weather conditions, the cool phase of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) climate pattern, is heading into its third consecutive winter with a 91% chance of La Niña through September-November and an 80% chance through the early winter (November-January), says Climate.gov. This rare occurrence has only happened twice in the past 70 years.
What does this mean for global commodity production?
Gro Intelligence says La Niña conditions for a third year in a row could have far-reaching effects on global agriculture by triggering large shifts in weather.
La Niña tends to create drought and dry conditions in many parts of the world, including Brazil, Argentina and the U.S., while bringing additional precipitation to other areas, such as Australia.
- Argentina impacts could include reduced wheat acreage planted, hindering the crop's yield development; La Niña previously caused substantial soybean losses in Argentina during the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons
- Brazil corn and soybeans could decrease; Brazil's southern states experienced severe drought this past year
- U.S. hard red winter wheat also suffered from dry conditions brought on by La Niña
- Australia is looking at its third year of strong wheat production in 2022 as good weather boosts planting across its grain belt
When will La Niña transition to neutral?
La Niña’s characteristic tropical atmospheric response — more rain and clouds over Indonesia, less over the central Pacific, and stronger-than-average winds both aloft and near the surface — was active in August, notes Climate.gov. Taken together, the oceanic and atmospheric conditions tell us that La Niña is solidly in place.
There is a lot of uncertainty about how long this La Niña will last and when we will see a transition to neutral conditions.
Current forecaster consensus gives La Niña the edge through January-March (54%), with a 56% chance of neutral for the February-April period.
Why should I care?
La Niña and El Niño affect global atmospheric circulation patterns in somewhat usual patterns, altering jet streams and storm tracks around the world and influencing temperature, rain/snow and tropical cyclone seasons -- which helps us predict climate patterns to come.
Here are some examples of what La Niña likes to bring to the U.S.:
- An increase Atlantic hurricane season activity
- Drier winters through the southern tier of the U.S., increasing drought conditions
- Wetter (and snowier) conditions for parts of the northern tier of the U.S.
- Hotter, drier summers in Texas following La Niña winters
- More frequent spring hailstorms and tornadoes in the south-central U.S.
- Reduced number of atmospheric rivers impacting the West Coast
La Niña year does not guarantee a bad year with regards to corn and soybean yields, but it also means not a ‘really good year.’
Globally, La Niña can reduce crop yields, which given the challenges, disruptions and turmoil in the past year is yet another threat to our global food supply and system.