El Niño has begun. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has formalized the beginning of this meteorological phenomenon associated with an increase in global temperatures. For several months climatologists had been predicting its arrival for this year.
Forecasters at @NOAA's @NWSCPC announce the arrival of #ElNino https://t.co/2pYGBPzLOM pic.twitter.com/swA9gHPjbQ
— National Weather Service (@NWS) June 8, 2023
It is a phenomenon characterized by higher than normal surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean with global repercussions.
NOAA says El Niño is expected to "gradually strengthen" in the coming months, raising fears of an increase in extreme weather events such as droughts, wildfires or heavy rains.
"It could lead to new temperature records" in some areas, NOAA climate scientist Michelle L'Heureux said in a statement, adding that "climate change can exacerbate or mitigate some El Niño-related impacts."
If it tends to moderate hurricane activity in the Atlantic, El Niño would favor them in the Pacific, says the US agency. South America, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa could be affected by increased rainfall, while Australia, Indonesia and parts of South Asia could be hit by severe droughts.
2023-2027, certainly the warmest period ever recorded
Météo France indicates that "on a global scale, the average temperature tends to be abnormally high during the years affected by these episodes". Its influence tends to be weaker in summer than in fall and winter, NOAA says.
This phenomenon, characterized by an anomaly in temperatures, occurs every two to seven years, cyclically, and lasts about a year. The last El Niño period dates back to 2018-2019 and gave way to an almost three-year La Niña event, an inverse phenomenon characterized by an abnormally low temperature of the Pacific waters. Despite this opposite effect, the last few years have still been the warmest on record.
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With El Niño, the situation will continue to worsen. In May, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warned that the period 2023-2027 would almost certainly be the warmest on record with the combined effects of El Niño and global warming.
If it lasts on average 9 to 12 months, it is not yet possible to predict the duration of the current phenomenon. Generally, the effects of El Niño on temperatures are felt the year after its emergence. Last month, Boris Dewitte, a researcher at the University of Toulouse (Haute-Garonne), told us that with climate change, "these events should last longer."