70% probability of El Niño arriving this summer, say US climate forecasters



Climate phenomenon the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which is linked to extreme weather and crop loss, is highly likely to occur this summer in the Northern hemisphere, according to figures by the US government’s Climate Prediction Centre.

The global climate pattern, commonly known as El Niño, is expected to occur this year. The phenomenon triggers a stream of warm waters that influence the weather in the Pacific. It is commonly associated with warmer and drier winters in North America, but can be destructive for South American and Pacific nations because it causes floods and can badly affect agriculture and fisheries.

Scientists looking at the latest predictions have noted, “Over the last month, the chance of El Niño and its ultimate strength weakened slightly in the models. Regardless, the forecasters remain just as confident that El Niño is likely to emerge. 

“Overall, the chance of El Niño is 70% during the Northern Hemisphere summer and reaches 80% during the fall and winter.”

However, it has been said that the phenomenon is likely to be of moderate strength. The intensity of El Niño has previously been associated with rising levels of greenhouse gases.

Kevin Trenberth, climate scientist at the National Centre for Atmospheric Research, said, “We are going to have an El Niño. The question is the strength. It hasn’t taken off in the last month the way one might have thought if it was going to be a really major event.

A study published in May suggested that El Niño and its cooling equivalent La Niña, could significantly reduce maize, rice and wheat yields by up to 4%, crops that represent almost 60% of the world’s food calories.

Photo: State Farm via Flickr

Further reading:

El Niño threatens food crop yields – but scientists can predict ‘bad years’

Rising carbon dioxide will amplify El Niño, say scientists

High atmospheric carbon ‘significantly reduces’ nutrients in most important crops

Half of 2012 extreme weather events linked to climate change, says study

Environment Agency: climate change means we need to adapt to extreme weather


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