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After a record dry, 2018 may be the year of the Indian Ocean Dipole

The droughts of past decades have burnt the term El Nino into the Australian vocabulary, but after the drought of 2018, perhaps the IOD — short for Indian Ocean Dipole — might also become a household name.

A decade ago, an Australian team led by a young climatologist, Caroline Ummenhofer, began trawling through more than 100 years of Australian drought records.

The conventional thinking was that El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) drove Australia's drought cycle.

But the University of New South Wales team was looking for a different culprit, and at the turn of the millennium, a new climate driver was discovered — the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD).

It worked a lot like El Nino, but on the western side of the country in the Indian Ocean.

Dr Ummenhofer discovered the IOD was an even bigger factor than El Nino in driving long-term Australian droughts.


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(ABC NEWS 7/12/2018)