El Niño phenomenon: 2024 could be warmest year ever

02/03/2023 – With a likelihood of almost 90% the weather phenomenon "El Niño" will occur again in the Pacific region as early as this autumn. This may be accompanied by numerous extreme weather events, such as heavy rain in Peru and drought in Australia and Indonesia. As El Niño also increases global temperatures in the short term, there is a possibility that 2024 could be the warmest year since weather records began. This is what scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Justus Liebig University Giessen and two Beijing universities report in a recent analysis.
El Niño phenomenon: 2024 could be warmest year ever
Photo: Lucy Chian/Unsplash

"The last three years have been characterized by La Niñas, i.e., cooling in the eastern and central Pacific. These La Niñas have temporarily lowered global temperatures by about -0.1°C. If El Niño comes to the fore again this year, we can expect a significant jump in global temperatures" explains Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director Emeritus of PIK.

"A new record in global average temperature can then be expected for 2024. For a short time, it could even be 1.5°C degrees above the pre-industrial mean," adds Josef Ludescher of PIK, co-author of the study.

For their El Niño forecast, the researchers used several analytical methods they had developed. The analysis of air temperatures in the tropical Pacific gave them the first warning of the occurrence of an El Niño as early as the middle of last year. Combining this with other methods at the end of the year corroborated their prediction that there was an 89 percent probability that an El Niño phenomenon would occur this year. Air temperatures in the central Pacific were in a very disorderly state last year, meaning they behaved less uniformly than usual. As a result, a moderate to strong El Niño is likely in 2023.

For the first time, the researchers also succeeded in predicting the type of El Niño. They expect an East Pacific El Niño in 2023. Because of the increased water temperature off Ecuador and Peru, they expect heavy precipitation there and, because of the lower plankton formation, significantly less fishing. Currently, the heat stored in the western Pacific is at a record high.


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