Climate change is making stronger El Ninos, which change weather worldwide and heat up an already warming planet, a new study finds.
Scientists examined 33 El Ninos — natural warming of equatorial Pacific that triggers weather extremes across the globe — since 1901. They found since the 1970s, El Ninos have been forming farther to the west in warmer waters, leading to stronger El Ninos in some cases.
A powerful El Nino can trigger drought in some places, like Australia and India. And it can cause flooding in other areas like California. The Pacific gets more hurricanes during an El Nino and the Atlantic gets fewer.
El Nino makes winters milder and wetter in the United States, which generally benefits from strong El Ninos. They’re devastating elsewhere. The 1997-98 event caused thousands of deaths from severe storms, heat waves, floods and drought, costing between $32 billion and $96 billion, according to a United Nations study