It may be winter where you live – in fact, it may be snowing and freezing cold, too – but you better get used to those summertime heat waves the world has been seeing as of late.
Turns out these extreme weather situations, fueled by unusually strong El Niño patterns spurned on by climate change, are likely to double in the near future, say scientists from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science (CoECSS), the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and CSIRO.
Publishing their findings in the journal Nature Climate Change, the scientists report that while the world normally experiences extra-strong El Niños every 20 years, “research shows this will double to one event every 10 years,” said Dr Agus Santoso of CoECSS.
“The question of how global warming will change the frequency of extreme El Niño events has challenged scientists for more than 20 years,” said Dr Mike McPhaden of US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “This research is the first comprehensive examination of the issue to produce robust and convincing results.”
El Niño events are made up of bands of abnormally warm ocean water that develop off the western coast of South America, causing climatic changes across the Pacific Ocean. I had never even heard the phrase before I moved to California back in 1996, and then I heard it seemingly all the time. In fact, nearly every time it rained (which, truth be told, is not that often in Los Angeles) El Niño was one of the first things the local weatherman mentioned. Seems that the warmer water causes heavy rain in California, which in turn causes the mudslides and flooding that comes to the area quite often.
If these patterns are going to double, we’re in for a hell of a time.
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