El Nino is over! Scientists worried about the future: What will happen... Storms and hurricanes are expected


El Nino is over! Scientists worried about the future: What will happen... Storms

The powerful El Niño weather event, which along with climate change has helped push global temperatures to new highs, is over, scientists say.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology says the Pacific Ocean has cooled "significantly" in the past week. This natural episode that began last June brought warmer waters to the surface of the Pacific, adding additional heat to the atmosphere.

But what happens next is uncertain, researchers say. A string of recent global monthly record high temperatures has some scientists fearing that the world may be entering a new phase of even faster climate change.

Scientists say the months after El Niño ends will provide a strong indication of whether recent high temperatures are due to accelerated climate change or not.

Every few years, the onset of El Niño brings dramatic weather changes to many parts of the world. The increase in warm water coming to the surface off the coast of Peru in South America is linked to droughts and floods in various parts of the world. The full name of the pattern is El Niño-Southern Oscillation or ENSO.

It is characterized by three different phases, the hot El Niño, neutral conditions or a cooler period called La Niña.

This current El Niño was declared last June and peaked in December. The resulting warmer water in the Pacific has helped push global average temperatures to record highs, with March making it ten consecutive months to break the record for that period.

But now, perhaps sooner than expected, El Niño is gone. The critical question is what happens next, and scientists are divided on that. US researchers recently said there was a 60% chance of a La Niña developing between June and August and an 85% chance of it happening by autumn.

But the Australian Bureau says such statements should be treated with caution. They expect neutral conditions to last until at least July. They point to the current warm state of the global oceans that they believe is influencing ENSO.

"Since current global ocean conditions have not been observed before, inferences about how ENSO might develop in 2024 that are based on past events may not be reliable," they said in a statement.

Whether a La Niña forms really matters, researchers say. It could have a significant impact on storms and hurricanes, with some experts predicting that if La Niña arrives, it would herald a very active hurricane season in the Atlantic.

The cooling effect of La Niña may also slightly slow the rate of global warming. This may indicate that the record temperatures experienced over the past year were something of a mystery rather than evidence that the world has moved into a faster phase of warming.


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