El Niño global weather pattern forecast to bring hotter temperatures

Arrival of an El Niño may lead to new spike in global heating in 2024, says World Meteorological Organisation

There are increased chances the global climate pattern known as El Niño will arrive by the end of summer, bringing greater likelihood of hotter-than-normal temperatures in 2024, the World Meteorological Organisation is reporting.

Although there is not yet a clear picture of how strong the El Niño event will be or how long it might last, even a relatively mild one could affect precipitation and temperature patterns around the world.

The development of an El Niño will most likely lead to a new spike in global heating and increase the chance of breaking temperature records, Petteri Taalas, the secretary general of the meteorological organisation, said in a news release.

El Niño is associated with warmer-than-normal ocean surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.


El Niño can bring increased rainfall to southern South America and the Horn of Africa, and severe drought to Australia, Indonesia and parts of southern Asia. In the United States, it tends to lead to rainier, cooler conditions in much of the south, and warmer conditions in parts of the north.

El Niño, together with its counterpart La Niña, is part of the intermittent cycle known as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, or ENSO, that is highly influential in shaping year-to-year variations in weather conditions across the globe.

ENSO is a naturally occurring phenomenon, and scientists are still researching exactly how human-caused climate change over the past 150 years may be impacting the behaviour and dynamics of El Niño and La Niña events, with some studies suggesting that El Niño events may be more extreme in a warmer future.

According to the World Meteorological Organization outlook, there is about a 60 per cent chance that El Niño will form between May and July, and an 80 per cent chance it will form between July and September.

The forecasts are based on observations of wind patterns and ocean temperatures as well as climate modelling, according to the UN body.

Conditions in the tropical Pacific have been in a neutral state since the latest La Niña event ended this year. La Niña conditions had persisted through a rare three consecutive winters in the northern Hemisphere, supercharging Atlantic hurricane seasons and prolonging severe drought across much of the western United States.

Yet, despite the cooling effect La Niña typically has, the past eight years have been the hottest on record, a worrying addition to the longer-term pattern of temperatures that have been steadily rising as the world continues to emit greenhouse gases from burning coal, oil and natural gas.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.