El nino, la nina, weather effects

El Niño returns and could raise the planet's temperature by more than 1,5°C

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Phenomenon resulting from the warming of Pacific waters, together with global warming, increase by 98% the chance that the next 5 years will be the hottest in history

Twenty-odd years ago, the big issue making headlines around the world was one: El Niño. The effects of human influence on Nature and how it came to harm our planet's climate system, and how El Niño came to be a direct consequence of it. 

El nino, la nina, weather effects
The Earth is beautiful, but it suffers from our influence. (Image: IFMG)

Understanding the meaning of the name El Niño

El Niño It is a phenomenon whose effect on the planet, combined with ever-increasing emissions of pollutants, is devastating, raising global temperatures. Experts gave a nice name to a negative effect on a global scale, and it became popular among the media to use it as a generalized term for all the negative meteorological events that happened around the world. However, these crises did not always occur due only to the “boy” and, little by little, El Niño it ceased to be a recurring subject. 

So much so that nowadays, many do not know the true meaning of this nomenclature, even though its existence is still quite active in the balance of life on the planet. And that is about to change, as the situation is getting worse and worse. Within a year, the global temperature is predicted to possibly pass a historic milestone: an increase of nearly 1,5 degrees Celsius, according to the WMO, the World Meteorological Organization, the United Nations climate monitoring body, in a report presented today.

El nino, la nina, weather effects
Image captured by NASA satellites reveal the effect of rising global temperatures on rising sea levels, a sign of the return of El Niño. (Image: NASA)

The damage to the planet is virtually irreversible

And the bad news doesn't stop there. The trend is for the heat to continue rising more and more, raising the global temperature, which is already well above expectations. Even hotter summers await us, not to mention a more accelerated melting of the polar ice caps, which generate a rise in sea levels, and consequently the advance of water over the continents, erasing from the map locations close to the coastline, more prone to suffer from rising ocean advances.

The rise in global temperature is due to the failure of humanity to impose a control on polluting gas emissions into the atmosphere, which, together with the abnormal climate patterns brought about by El Niño, will make the planet, which was not doing well at all, make our life here much worse. 

[Without radical change] global temperatures will be taken to unprecedented territory, and this will have vast [and dire] repercussions when it comes to health, food security, water supply, and, of course, the environment. We need to be prepared.

Petteri Taalas, Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization

A report published alongside Taalas' speech says there's a 98% chance that one of the next five years will be one of the hottest on record in the planet's history. And there's also the same chance that one of those years will have the highest average temperature ever. Can you imagine this happening? Yes, it does, as the last eight years have already proved to be the warmest, according to an earlier report by WMO, published in January. Such heat brought irreparable damage to Earth, which unfortunately is only a preview of the cataclysm on a planetary level that is about to come, and that becomes less possible to be avoided with each passing day.

El niño, la niña, climate effects
In a breathtaking image, firefighters and local people battle an oncoming fire in a village in Greece. (Image: Angelos Tzortzinis, AFP)

The planet screams for help, it's up to us to hear it

And this crisis is not shy about showing its effects clearly and in excellent tone, we are the ones who cover our eyes and ears. In North America, for example, extreme temperatures have led to roads becoming disfigured, and there has been a notable increase in visits to hospitals and public health agencies for illnesses related to climate change. China suffered its longest period of extreme heat, with more than 70 consecutive days recording temperatures well above average, the highest ever seen anywhere in the world, as claimed by climate historian Maximiliano Herrera.

According to researchers, without the influence of climate change, there would never have been a temperature increase as large as last year in the United Kingdom, when the region, typically with a mild and cloudy climate, experienced an increase in temperature, reaching an unprecedented 40 degrees. Celsius. This occurred despite a so-called “triple effect” of La niña, the opposite weather pattern to that of El Niño, that is, of global cooling, between September 2020 and March of this year. 

At this moment, with neither of them, nor El Niño ou La niña, currently active, the trade winds (from the English, trade winds) – as the constant winds that flow from east to west of the globe, coming from the Equator strip are called – carried from the Pacific Ocean help to bring water to the west, from South America towards Asia. As a result, colder water rises from the depths to the surface of the ocean.

With the influence of El Niño, these winds weaken, allowing warm waters to flow back to the eastern regions. As a result, the heated water pushes the Pacific jet stream, a high-velocity air current, southward, which in turn is enough to affect the world's weather patterns. The big boy is expected to show up between May and July of this year, and estimates give until the end of winter in the northern hemisphere for it to end, between December 2023 and March 2024, says the Central of the National Weather Forecast Service of the United States, the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center.

A WMO warns that it could take a year before the effects of El Niño be felt in temperatures around the world, which is not good news for the coming 2024. And the pessimistic predictions do not stop there: it is projected that the effect of the phenomenon will warm the planet even more, despite the presence of its opposite, La niña.

That alone will be enough to throw the ball on the planet's thermometer up there. The agency projects a 66% chance that between 2023 and 2027, at least one year will see a rise of more than 1,5 degrees Celsius in the planet's temperature, compared to the pre-industrial rise. This was the moment when there was the beginning of the use of fossil fuels enough to originate the Greenhouse effect, the beginning of the global warming process. 

El nino, la nina, weather effects
Global climate effects affect the Amazon at an alarming rate. Drought comes where water was plentiful. (Image: Deutsche Welle/DW)

But there's still a chance, remote though it may be

There's no way to gild the pill, things are going to be really ugly. This rise is worrisome, as the world has already suffered incredibly from an increase of 1,1 degrees Celsius above that measured in the period that preceded the modern period, which is already enough to cause the climate chaos that we have been witnessing daily around the world. As difficult as it may seem, given this extremely worrying news, there is still a chance, however small, of at least stabilizing this temperature increase before it reaches 1,5 degrees. 

The main objective is that, with global climate agreements such as the one in Paris, aimed at alerting countries around the globe, they step on the brakes in order to prevent the increase from passing this level less and less. With this, the hope is that there will be a greater awareness of pollutant emissions and that this control will become a constant mission and not just an emergency and topical “plug hole”. At least that is the achievement that Secretary General Taalas of the WMO aspire to conquer.

Unfortunately, this mission is getting harder and harder to accomplish. In 2015, for example, the year in which the most current Paris agreement was sealed between the world powers, who promised standing together to reduce their emissions - and which almost none fulfilled, by the way - it was never imagined that the increase in global temperature would exceed 1,5 degrees Celsius. We are not talking about two or three decades ago, but a few years. So what can be expected for 2025, or even 2024, as long as nothing is significantly changed?  

This article may sound like the summary of a Roland Emmerich disaster movie, or a cheap science-fiction booklet, but it's not. The consequences generated by the damage caused by humanity are appearing at an alarming speed, and until there is a great change in attitude on the part of all, in union, to change the course of this history. It is up to us, as citizens of the world, to charge our governments with a strong shift in climate policies and, of course, to take action, however small, to change our own awareness of what we consume and how we do it. It is almost guaranteed that we will not like what is bound to happen to our home Earth in the not too distant future.

For other news about this and other planets, keep an eye on Showmetech:

Where does outer space begin and how is it defined? 

Sources: The Guardian, The Verge, The Weather Channel

reviewed by Glaucon Vital in 17 / 5 / 23.

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