According to climate specialists, the size of the anticipated weather event is undetermined, but “we’ll need to buckle up” if an extreme El Niño happens.
A probable El Niño, a trend of ocean warming in the Pacific that might raise the danger of catastrophic weather events around the world, is still being foreseen by climate models all over the world.
An extreme or “super El Niño,” which is characterized by extremely high temperatures in a core region of the Pacific near the equator, may occur later this year, according to some projections.
The most recent extreme El Niño in 2016, which was supported by human-caused global warming that prompted floods, droughts, and disease outbreaks, helped raise global temperatures to their highest point ever.
In a Tuesday update, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology stated that by August, all seven models it had examined—including those from the UK, Japan, and the US—showed sea surface temperatures passing the El Niño threshold.
However, the bureau and climate scientists cautioned that outlooks should be “viewed with some caution” because they were far less dependable throughout the autumn in the southern hemisphere.
According to the bureau, there was a 50% probability that an El Niño would form before the end of the year.
El Niños is characterized by a rise in sea surface temperatures in a section of the central equatorial Pacific that is at least 0.8C higher than the long-term norm. Temperatures there are 2C above average during extreme El Niños.
Many of the forecasts indicate that temperatures may reach this high by October, but scientists have once again advised caution in interpreting the findings.
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s lead research scientist, Dr. Mike McPhaden, noted that historically, El Niños typically occurred every four to five years.
We’ve earned one. However, the expected El Niño’s strength has a wide range, from blockbuster to wimp, he said.
Big El Niños, according to him, typically occur every 10 to 15 years, thus it would be “very unusual” to see one so soon after the most recent significant one in 2015 and 2016.
Even yet, he continued, “nature has a way of getting us just when we think we have it all figured out.”
Extreme droughts, floods, heat waves, and storms “the really big ones echo all across the world. In that case, we’ll need to secure ourselves. It might also lose steam. In either case, we should be alert and ready.
“It’s a tricky time of year to forecast, but we do see consistency among international climate models of warming towards El Niño levels,” said Catherine Ganter, a climatologist with the bureau.
The bureau was also keeping an eye on the temperature of the Indian Ocean since there was a “slightly increased risk” of conditions there intensifying El Niño’s effects by leading to drier conditions in the south-east and center of the country.
She claimed that for Australia, the intensity of an El Niño did not always correspond to the intensity of the impacts. But she added: “During El Niño, we also see above-average daytime temperatures across the southern two-thirds of the country. You tend to see decreased rainfall across eastern Australia during winter and spring.”
According to her, those circumstances raised the probability of heatwaves and bushfires.
According to studies, the likelihood that the world will experience extreme El Niño episodes increases if global warming persists. El Niños in Australia heighten the possibility of widespread coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef as well as the risk of droughts, heatwaves, and bushfires in the east of the nation.
Previous El Niños have caused record-high global average temperatures and have been related to droughts in South America, failed or delayed monsoons in India, and floods and landslides in Central America. The strongest El Niño this century, which occurred between 2015 and 2016, was associated with disease outbreaks including cholera and dengue fever all throughout the world.
McPhaden and other scientists have advised caution, citing 2014 as an example of early predictions of a strong El Niños that did not materialize. However, the strongest El Niño this century did start the year after, according to Dr. Agus Santoso, a specialist on Pacific climate change at the University of New South Wales.
According to him, there have only been three extreme El Niños since observations became more trustworthy in the 1950s: 1982 to 83, 1997 to 98, and 2015 to 16. El Niño in the years 1972 to 1973 was likewise regarded by some scientists as an extraordinary event.
“The predictions are tipped towards El Niño, but whether it will be a weak or strong one… we’ll have to wait a little longer,” Santoso added.
However, by June, there would be much more faith in the forecasts, he added, adding that “we still have to be considering” the possibilities of an extreme El Niño.