El Nino weakens but expect record temperatures this year: WMO forecast | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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El Nino weakens but expect record temperatures this year: WMO forecast

ByJayashree Nandi
Mar 05, 2024 11:43 AM IST

El Nino is a naturally occurring climate pattern associated with warming of the ocean surface in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean

El Nino is not gradually weakening but it will continue to impact global climate in the coming months, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said on Tuesday.

Though El Nino is weakening now, above normal temperatures are predicted over almost all land areas between March and May. (Representative file photo)
Though El Nino is weakening now, above normal temperatures are predicted over almost all land areas between March and May. (Representative file photo)

Though El Nino is weakening now, above normal temperatures are predicted over almost all land areas between March and May.

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The latest update from WMO says there is about a 60% chance of El Nino persisting during March-May and an 80% chance of neutral conditions (neither El Nino or La Nina) from April to June.

The term El Nino refers to a warming of the ocean surface, or above-average sea surface temperatures, in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.

La Nina is a climate pattern that describes the cooling of surface-ocean water along the tropical west coast of South America.

There is also a chance of La Nina developing later in the year, but there remains uncertainty on that front.

HT had reported on February 4 that India is likely to experience a short-lived spring followed by a harsh summer this year, meteorologists said, predicting that the El Nino conditions will gradually transition to neutral conditions by June, making way for the onset of La Nina by September.

Also Read: Expect a warmer summer, ‘above normal’ heatwave days from March-May: IMD

“El Nino occurs on average every two to seven years, and typically lasts nine to 12 months. It is a naturally occurring climate pattern associated with warming of the ocean surface in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. It influences weather and storm patterns in different parts of the world. But it takes place in the context of a climate being changed by human activities,” WMO said on Tuesday.

“Every month since June 2023 has set a new monthly temperature record – and 2023 was by far the warmest year on record. El Nino has contributed to these record temperatures, but heat-trapping greenhouse gases are unequivocally the main culprit. Ocean surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific clearly reflect El Nino. But sea surface temperatures in other parts of the globe have been persistently and unusually high for the past 10 months. The January 2024 sea-surface temperature was by far the highest on record for January. This is worrying and cannot be explained by El Nino alone,” said WMO Secretary-General Celeste Saulo.

El Nino typically has the greatest impact on the global climate in the second year of its development which is 2024 this time.

WMO has predicted above-normal sea-surface temperatures over much of the global oceans leading to above-normal temperatures over almost all land areas in the next three months, and influence regional rainfall patterns, according to a Global Seasonal Climate Update.

The current El Nino event, which developed in June 2023, was at its strongest between November and January.

It displayed a peak value of about 2°C above the 1991 to 2020 average sea surface temperature for the eastern and central tropical Pacific Ocean.

This made it one of the five strongest El Nino events ever, though it was weaker than the 1997/98 and 2015/2016 events.

The summer months of March to May are likely to be hotter than usual across most of the country, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) had said on Friday, while also predicting El Nino conditions to persist for most of this period, which could in turn result in a higher number of heatwave days.

Some regions, however, including the northwest that includes Delhi, could record normal to below normal night-time lows and daytime peaks, especially over the first 15 days of March when a series of western disturbance are predicted to bring rain in these regions.

IMD customarily puts out a forecast for the summer season in the first week of March every year, with the temperatures in the 12-week period from then having significant implications for public health and agriculture.

For instance, unusually hot weather or excessive spells of rain in March could hurt a number of winter crops that are close to harvest in April and May.

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