El Nino is coming – and the world isn’t ready | Daily News Byte


In 2023, global warming will continue to rise unabated, bringing more disruptive weather that is the signature calling card of accelerating climate change.

According to NASA, 2022 was one of the hottest years on Earth on record. This is unusual, because a recurrent climate pattern in the tropical Pacific – known as ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation) – was in its coldest phase. During this phase, known as La Niña, the waters of the equatorial Pacific are significantly cooler than normal, influencing weather patterns around the world.

One consequence of La Nina is that it helps keep a lid on global temperatures. This means that—despite recent widespread heat waves, wildfires, and droughts—we’ve actually escaped the worst. The scary thing is that La Nina will do Finally and finally the transition to the better known El Nino, which sees the waters of the equatorial Pacific become warmer. When that happens, extreme weather on our planet will become insignificant in 2021 and 2022.

Current forecasts indicate that La Niña will continue into early 2023, making it—luckily for us—one of the longest on record (it started in spring 2020). Then, the equatorial Pacific will begin to warm again. Whether or not it gets warm enough to develop a full-blown El Niño, 2023 has a very good chance – without the cooling influence of La Niña – to be the warmest year on record.

A 1.5°C rise in global average temperature is widely regarded as the guardrail beyond which climate disruption becomes dangerous. Above this figure, our once stable climate will begin to collapse in earnest, becoming ubiquitous, affecting everyone and infusing itself into every aspect of our lives. In 2021, this figure (compared to the 1850–1900 average) was 1.2°C, while in 2019—before the latest La Nina development—it was an alarmingly high 1.36°C. As warming increases again in 2023, it is entirely possible that we will touch or exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius for the first time.

But what exactly would this mean? I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the highest recorded temperature – 54.4°C (129.9°F) – currently in Death Valley, California. This may well happen somewhere in the Middle East or South Asia, where temperatures can rise above 55 degrees Celsius. Heat could again exceed the 40°C mark in the UK, and parts of Europe could top 50°C for the first time.

Inevitably, higher temperatures will mean that severe drought will be the order of the day, reducing crop yields in many parts of the world. In 2022, extreme weather resulted in reduced harvests in China, India, South America and Europe, increasing food insecurity. Stocks are likely to remain below normal in 2023, so another round of poor harvests could be devastating. Food shortages may result in civil unrest in most countries, while rising prices in developed countries will cause inflation and cost-of-living crises.


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