Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Major El Nino events likely to double

The Conversation: An international team of researchers have predicted that extreme El Nino events are likely to double in the next century, from once every 20 years to once every ten, thanks to climate change.

Extreme El Nino events occur when more than five millimetres of rain falls a day in the eastern equatorial Pacific region around Central and South America.

These extreme events can severely disrupt global weather patterns, affecting ecosystems, agriculture, tropical cyclones, bushfires, floods and other extreme weather events.

Lead author of the study, Dr Wenju Cai, from CSIRO, said that the further the warming in the east Pacific stretched, and the higher the temperatures reached, the more extreme the El Nino.

They found global warming would alter background climate conditions, meaning it would take weaker changes in ocean temperatures to prompt an extreme El Nino.

A NOAA chart of El Nino conditions

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