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El Niño is back: WMO says it’s expected to break global temperature records

By Caitlin Snow Jul 5, 2023 | 2:16 PM

Alexey Komarov / CC

El Niño is here, according to the World Meteorological Organization, for the first time in seven years and is expected to be at least of moderate strength.

“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 Prof. Petteri Taalas.

It is associated with the warming of the ocean surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean and is taking place in the context of climate change. El Nino happens every 2 to 7 years and lasts about 9 to 12 months.

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

The WMO said there was more than a 60% chance the average global temperature between 2023 and 2027, would temporarily be more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels for at least a year.

“This is not to say that in the next five years we would exceed the 1.5°C level specified in the Paris Agreement because that agreement refers to long-term warming over many years. However, 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” said WMO Director of Climate Services Prof. Chris Hewitt.

The warmest year on record so far, according to WMO, is 2016 because of the ‘double whammy’ of a powerful El Nino event and human triggered greenhouse gases. They say we should feel the effect of that more in 2024.

The WMO says governments around the world need to prepare for extreme weather events that El Nino will bring.


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