Jan 4, 2016

What North America can expect from El Niño

United States
by
Kevin
,
The Conversation
The Oceanic Niño Index (ONI) shows warm (red) and cold (blue) phases of abnormal sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Credit: NCAR, Author provided
The Oceanic Niño Index (ONI) shows warm (red) and cold (blue) phases of abnormal sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Credit: NCAR, Author provided

Every El Niño cycle is different. The effects from this year’s already include a record number of hurricanes/typhoons in the Pacific and intense wildfires in Indonesia. In the United States over the next several months, El Niño is expected to cause heavy rains across the South, with the potential for coastal flooding in California, along with relatively mild and dry weather in the northern states. Global climate change, which, along with the El Niño, is making 2015 the warmest year on record, is likely to amplify these impacts...All of the impacts of El Niño are exacerbated by global warming. Globally, temperatures for 2015 are the highest on record, in part because of the El Niño event. Global warming sets the background and El Niño determines regional weather patterns. When they work together in the same direction, they have the biggest effects and records are broken. Changes associated with El Niño, including droughts, floods, heat waves and other changes, take a heavy toll in many parts of the world. They can severely disrupt agriculture, fisheries, the environment, health, energy demand and air quality, and increase the risks of wildfires. The risk of adverse effects and more frequent extremes or even records occurring is heightened by global climate change from human activities. By better understanding El Niño, predictions and alerts can allow us to be prepared for possible unusual effects, but we can and should act to slow down climate change.