Another El Niño is nearly upon us. What does that mean?

A new El Niño is brewing in the tropical Pacific, threatening
an uptick in global temperatures and extreme weather.

Scientists around the world have been tracking the looming El
Niño — the warm phase of a normal three to
five year global weather cycle

since at least May
, watching the warming waters of the tropical
Pacific Ocean for telltale signs that a large-scale shift in winds
and weather patterns has set in.

On Tuesday, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said that water
temperatures
have now crossed El Niño thresholds
, and a full-scale El Niño

is likely to start sometime in December
. U.S. forecasters place
a
90 percent chance of El Niño
to form by January.

The last El Niño, peaking in late 2015, was
the strongest ever recorded
. Rainfall patterns shifted
worldwide, causing enormous fires in Indonesia, spurring the
largest coral bleaching episode in history, and impacting
more than 60 million people worldwide
. The coming El Niño
isn’t expected to be as severe as 2015’s, but will likely have
serious consequences nonetheless.

In response to the news, the U.N. Food and Agriculture
Organization issued a
report
listing several countries at high risk of food
shortages. Food crises could worsen or erupt in Pakistan, Kenya,
Guatemala, Honduras, Venezuela, Mozambique, and the Philippines,
according to the report. In the U.S., El Niño often brings
torrential rains to California. It
can also boost East Coast snowstorms
, which, in an era of
sea-level rise,
now routinely cause serious flooding
.

Since El Niño also works to warm the atmosphere, it’s
possible that 2019 could beat 2016 as the warmest year on record.
As El Niño begins to set in, both October and November have been unusually
warm globally
, and that trend is likely
to continue
, according to Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist
at University of California-Berkeley. “It’s not a safe bet 2019
will beat 2016, but it will very likely be warmer than 2018,”
Hausfather told me.

There’s a growing body of evidence that suggests global
warming is pushing the Pacific towards
more extreme El Niños
, with
amplified effects around the world
like 2015’s massive
wildfires — another example of a vicious feedback cycle in a
changing climate. Not only is El Niño making weather worse; it’s
doing it at an ever-faster rate.

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline
Another El Niño is nearly upon us. What does that mean?
on Nov
21, 2018.

Source: FS – All – Science – News
Another El Niño is nearly upon us. What does that mean?