Publication Date November 18, 2015

The Most Intense El Niño Ever Observed Is Already a Worldwide Disaster

Christmas Island
Global temperatures in October were the most unusually warm ever measured—for any month in history. NOAA

El Niño—a periodic warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean—is the most immediate reason for this year’s global heat wave, but global warming has also been stashing heat in the oceans for decades now. There’s now a 99.9 percent chance that 2015 will be the warmest year on record and most likely by a wide margin.Fresh data this week show that the current El Niño is now the most intense ever measured, at least on a weekly basis, pushing ahead of huge events in 1982–83 and 1997–98, and likely 1877–78 as well.