El Niño Is Underway

El Niño Is Underway

The World Meteorology Organization (WMO) has declared that an El Niño event is underway, with an increase of severe drought risk expected for Australia.

For the first time in seven years, El Niño conditions have developed in the tropical Pacific, which will likely lead to a rise in global temperatures and disruptive weather and climate patterns.

“The onset of El Niño will greatly increase the likelihood of breaking temperature records and triggering more extreme heat in many parts of the world and in the ocean,” WMO secretary-general Professor Petteri Taalas said.

“The declaration of an El Niño by WMO is the signal to governments around the world to mobilise preparations to limit the impacts on our health, our ecosystems and our economies. Early warnings and anticipatory action of extreme weather events associated with this major climate phenomenon are vital to save lives and livelihoods.”

El Niños typically occur every two to seven years, according to the organisation, and will usually last nine to 12 months. These events are naturally occurring, but as noted by the WMO, it occurs within the context of a climate changed by human activities.

It’s predicted with a 98 per cent likelihood that, within five years, there will be a rise in temperatures by more than 1.5 degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels, for at least one year. It’s also expected that this upcoming five-year period will be the warmest on record.

The last warmest year on record was 2016, due to the overlapping effects of a powerful El Niño event and a rise in human-induced greenhouse gases.

“It is yet another wake-up call, or an early warning, that we are not yet going in the right direction to limit the warming to within the targets set in Paris in 2015 designed to substantially reduce the impacts of climate change” WMO director of climate service Professor Chris Hewit said.

It’s expected that severe droughts will take place in Australia, Indonesia, parts of southern Asia, Central America and northern South America.

Additionally, increased rainfall in southern South America, the southern United States, central Asia, and the Horn of Africa are expected.

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