According to a forecast by the World Weather Organization (WMO), the world must prepare for a further increase in temperature this year due to the approaching climate phenomenon El Niño. The surface water in the central and eastern Pacific is already higher than the long-term average, and this is always accompanied by higher temperatures on land, the WMO reported on Wednesday in Geneva. With a view to 2024 and 2025, temperature records are even to be feared because of El Niño, said WMO boss Petteri Taalas.

The probability that an El Niño will develop is 70 percent for the period June to August and 80 percent for July to September, the WMO said. This could further increase the average global temperature, which has been rising for decades due to man-made greenhouse gases. “The development of an El Niño (…) increases the likelihood that temperature records will be broken,” Taalas said.

El Niño and its counterpart La Niña favor extreme weather in many regions of the world. El Niño drives up the average global temperature, while La Niña has a cooling effect. They appear alternately every few years. Both alter ocean and air currents in and over the south-southeast Pacific. Depending on the region of the world, this creates increased precipitation or droughts. Because the warming of the coastal waters off Peru was always particularly high at the end of the year, fishermen called the phenomenon El Niño (the Christ Child).

In the past three years, the global climate has been affected by La Niña, Taalas said. “That acted like a brake on global temperature rise.” Experts cannot predict how long El Niño will last or how severe the consequences will be. According to the WMO, typical consequences are more rainfall in parts of South America, the southern USA and the Horn of Africa (Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya). In Australia, Indonesia and parts of South Asia, on the other hand, severe droughts occur more frequently. From June to September, El Niño increases the risk of severe storms in the central and eastern Pacific, while there are often fewer hurricanes in the Atlantic.

2014 to 2016 were marked by a very strong El Niño. This, along with climate change, contributed to 2016 being the hottest year since industrialization. According to the WMO, the global average temperature was around 1.3 degrees above the 1850-1900 average. Not every El Niño has such a strong impact.

WMO Seasonal Forecasts WMO Forecasts El Nino/La Nina WMO Announcement