Warning new El Niño could push temperatures to record levels

Predictions that global warning could push temperatures to record highs this year and in 2016 will put unprecedented pressure on world leaders to agree on carbon emission restrictions when they meet in Paris in December.

Global warming could send temperatures soaring warn experts.

Global warming could send temperatures soaring experts warn. Image by Mack Male / CC BY-SA 2.0

It is vital that the leaders reach consensus if global warming is to be limited to 2ºC. If not, new research predicts that a new El Niño could emerge from the hotter climate system that increased the warmth in the Pacific Ocean. The Independent in London says that such a course could be highly damaging, resulting in droughts and extreme weather conditions all over the world.

An El Niño event develops when winds in the Pacific Ocean which allows the surface waters to warm. Once that happens it considerably increases the risk of arid conditions in parts of, Australia, southern, northern and sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Central America, while simultaneously upping the odds on wetter conditions in the south of the US and equatorial East Africa.

The next El Niño could be similar to the one created in 1997-98, which had worldwide repercussions causing drought in South-east Asia, mudslides in South America and disruptive conditions in other areas of the globe. There is also the fear that average global temperature could hit a third consecutive record next year. Professor Adam Scaife, of the Met Office Hadley Centre said that it appeared that warming rates over a decade will reach new levels in the coming few years.

El Niño is responsible for the weakening Indian monsoon season while it is also the source of increased drought risks in Indonesia, South Africa and Australia.

The affect of El Niño usually lasts up to two years, although they sometimes last as long as four years.

Professor Rowan Sutton of the University of Reading in England, explained that after a 15-year 'cool' phase, which allowed the Pacific to reduce the average surface temperature, the signs are it is entering a 'warm' phase again.

He warned that if the greenhouse-gas driven warming continues unabated, there would be serious consequences on climates that would dwarf El Niño's short term effects.

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