By Editor-June 9th 2023.
The El Nino (Spanish for The Boy) climate phenomenon has arrived and is likely to yield extreme weather later this year, including above average temperatures, scientists at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have announced.
El Nino is one of the three phases of a Pacific Ocean phenomenon known as the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) that is closely tied to global temperatures.
In normal conditions, surface water in the Pacific Ocean is cooler in the east and warmer in the west.
During El Niño events, these winds weaken or reverse, sending warm surface waters eastwards instead.
Unlike the La Nina (Spanish for The Girl) climate pattern, which often lowers global temperatures slightly and was dominant the past three years, El Nino is associated with a rise in temperatures across the world.
“Depending on its strength, El Nino can cause a range of impacts, such as increasing the risk of heavy rainfall and droughts in certain locations around the world,” NOAA climate scientist Michelle L’Heureux said on Thursday in a statement on NOAA’s website.
“Climate change can exacerbate or mitigate certain impacts related to El Nino. For example, El Nino could lead to new records for temperatures, particularly in areas that already experience above-average temperatures during El Nino,” L’Heureuz noted.
The phenomenon’s influence on the United States is weak during summer but more pronounced starting from late fall through spring, NOAA said in its statement.
By winter, there is an estimated 84 percent chance of a “greater than moderate” El Nino developing and a 56 percent chance of a strong El Nino.
This would typically cause wetter than average conditions in some parts of the country from Southern California to the coast of the Gulf of Mexico but drier than average conditions in the Pacific Northwest and Ohio Valley.
It also raises chances for warmer than average temperatures in northern parts of the country.
According to a study published last month in the journal Science, this year’s El Nino could lead to global economic losses of $3 trillion as extreme weather decimates farm production, manufacturing and helps spread disease.
Sources: Al Jazeera, BBC, agencies.