A recent update by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) hints at a probable formation of El Nino later this year. The study predicts a 98% chance that at least one year between 2023 and 2027 will be the hottest and will lead to the most widespread rainfall and floods in some places worldwide.
Going by the WMO study, the world looks set to cross the threshold (set by the Paris Climate Accord, 2015) of containing the world temperature at 1.5 degrees Celsius increase. In simple words, brace for a hotter 2024.
El Nino, a part of the El Nino–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a climate phenomenon occurring in the eastern and central, equatorial tropics of the Pacific Ocean where weak trade winds cause the warm water to move towards the Americas. In contrast, cooler water rises to the surface to bring rainfall to the Central American countries.
Each El Nino is unique in its intensity and the path it follows. They do not occur periodically and can occur at an interval of two to six years.
This results in changes in atmospheric circulation, leading to altered rainfall patterns and temperature variations in different parts of the world.
What does it mean for global temperatures?
It is 55 per cent likely that El Nino 2023 will be a strong one, and the El Nino cascading into early 2024 has a 90 per cent chance too.
In the Northern Hemisphere's summer months, ie June to August, El Nino is expected to hold back the formation of Atlantic hurricanes and drought conditions in Central America, the Caribbean islands, and south (Indian subcontinent) and south-east Asia. This means we could have a less- intense monsoon this year in India.
During the summer months of the Southern Hemisphere (December to February), parts of South Africa, Australia, Indonesia and the Western Pacific are anticipated to encounter high temperatures, increased occurrences of droughts, and elevated risks of wildfires.
Parts of Argentina, facing prolonged droughts because of the long La Nina since 2020, can finally get some rainfall.
Northern Europe is set to have a colder and drier winter, while southern Europe might see a wet winter this year.
El Nino events typically last for several months to a few years and can have wide-ranging effects on agriculture, fisheries, vulnerable communities, and weather conditions, including droughts, floods, and storms, in various regions of the world.