El Niño settles in: Why we may see more extreme temperatures




(The Hill) — As El Niño conditions settle in — with a more than 90 percent chance of lasting through this winter and into next year — the globe may feel the heat.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center officially declared the arrival of El Niño, a climate phenomenon marked by warmer sea temperatures, in early June. 

El Niño increases the likelihood of record-breaking temperatures and triggering more extreme heat, Petteri Taalas, the secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), said in a press release earlier this month. 

The globe has already been seeing intense heat, breaking the unofficial record for the hottest day in 120,000 years three times last week. 

Last Thursday’s worldwide average temperature marked a new high of 63.01 degrees Fahrenheit, surpassing the records set in the preceding days, according to the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute.

Christopher Hewitt, WMO’s director of climate services, noted in a recent report that the “exceptional warmth” in June and early July occurred alongside the onset of El Niño conditions, which is “expected to further the heat both on land and in the oceans and lead to more extreme temperatures and marine heatwaves.”

“We are in uncharted territory and we can expect more records to fall as El Niño develops further and these impacts will extend into 2024,” Hewitt added. “This is worrying news for the planet.”

While scientists previously said 2024 was more likely to set heat records, the early start to El Niño this year — about a month or two ahead of schedule — could also put 2023 in the running, according to The Associated Press.


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