The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced on June 8 that the El Niño had arrived, warning that it “could lead to new records for temperatures.”
On Tuesday, the United Nations said it is set to continue throughout 2023 and will be “at least of moderate strength.”
El Niño is a naturally occurring climate pattern typically associated with increased heat worldwide, as well as drought in some part of the world and heavy rains elsewhere.
“It is expected to be at least moderate strength, the World Meteorological Organization said, noting that El Niño’s effect on global temperatures is usually felt most strongly within a year of its onset – in this case 2024.
“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,” said WMO secretary-general Petteri Taalas.
Since 2020, the world has been affected by an exceptionally long La Niña – El Niño’s cooling opposite – which ended earlier this year. Despite that, the UN said the last eight years were the warmest ever recorded, despite La Niña’s cooling effect stretching over nearly half that period. Without it, the warming could’ve been even worse.
“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,” Taalas said.
“Early warnings an anticipatory action of extreme weather events associated with this major climate phenomenon are vital to save lives and livelihoods,” he added.
The world’s meteorologists have been warning of a coming El Niño for months. Now that they have confirmed that it has started, we can only hope that our government has made the necessary preparations that will be critical in saving lives and livelihoods that could be threatened by the weather phenomenon that is expected to heat the planet further for the meantime.*