Conditions for the El Niño weather phenomenon had developed in the tropical Pacific for the first time in seven years, probably leading to a rise in global temperatures and disruptive weather and climate patterns, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warned on Tuesday
“The onset of El Niño will greatly increase the likelihood of breaking temperature records and triggering more extreme heat in many parts of the world and in the ocean,” the organisation’s secretary-general, Petteri Taalas, was quoted as saying in a WMO statement.
He said the WMO’s declaration of El Niño was a signal to governments across the world to prepare to mitigate the phenomenon’s impact on health, ecosystems and economies.
“Early warnings and anticipatory action of extreme weather events associated with this major climate phenomenon are vital to save lives and livelihoods,” Taalas added.
The statement read that the coming El Niño was expected to be at least of moderate strength and there was a 98% probability that at least one of the next five years would be the warmest on record.
El Niño is a global weather phenomenon that is a naturally occurring climate pattern associated with warming ocean surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.
It usually occurs every two to seven years and causes heavy rains in parts of southern South America, the southern US, the Horn of Africa and central Asia.
It can also cause severe droughts over Australia, Indonesia, parts of southern Asia, Central America and northern South America.