KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia on Friday (July 7) forecast the peak of the El Niño weather phenomenon, which brings prolonged hot and dry weather, will hit the country at the beginning of 2024.
El Niño, a warming of water surface temperatures in the eastern and central Pacific Ocean, is linked to extreme weather conditions from tropical cyclones and heavy rainfall to severe droughts.
“At the beginning of 2024, the El Niño phenomenon is expected to have a more noticeable impact when the intensity reaches the peak,” the ministry said in a statement.
The Southeast Asian country will face higher temperatures and less rainfall, which will increase the risk of cross-border haze if the burning of forests and peatland is uncontrolled, it said.
The World Meteorological Organisation on Tuesday said temperatures are expected to soar across large parts of the world after the El Niño weather pattern emerged in the tropical Pacific for the first time in seven years.
Early signs of hot, dry weather caused by El Niño are threatening food producers across Asia, with palm oil and rice production likely to suffer in Indonesia and Malaysia – which supply 80 per cent of the world’s palm oil – and Thailand, according to analysts.
Estates in Malaysia’s largest palm oil producing state Sabah are already experiencing water stress from early signs of El Niño, cutting yields and exacerbating the impact of under-fertilising and labour shortages seen over the past three years.