This Year Poses a Potential for Increased Heat with El Niño, Hope for Tomorrow?

This Year Poses a Potential for Increased Heat with El Niño, Hope for Tomorrow?

Despite being early in the year, the United Nations has issued a serious warning, stating that this year has the potential to be hotter than the previous one, due to the influence of El Niño. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the UN body for weather and climate, estimates that El Niño is expected to persist at least until April 2024.

El Niño, characterized by increased sea surface temperatures in the eastern and central Pacific, has the potential to trigger extreme weather events such as wildfires, tropical cyclones, and prolonged droughts. This natural phenomenon has caused disasters worldwide, with higher risks, especially for markets in developing countries vulnerable to fluctuations in food and energy prices.

After the cooling phase of La Niña concluded in early 2023, the WMO announced the onset of El Niño in July of the same year, emphasizing that July and August of that year were recorded as the two hottest months in history. The impact of this phenomenon is evident in the record-high land and sea surface temperatures since June 2023, making it the hottest year ever recorded. In connection with this, Petteri Taalas, the Secretary-General of WMO, sternly warns that this year has the potential to be even hotter.

According to Euronews, the rare occurrence of a strong El Niño in the Pacific Ocean and significant temperature changes in the Indian Ocean could reinforce high temperatures and drought throughout Australia and Southeast Asia. Furthermore, the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), sometimes referred to as the "little brother" of El Niño, is currently in a positive phase of its cycle, involving cold temperature shifts in the east and warm temperatures in the west. Although both climate events are not uncommon, the combination of a strong positive IOD and an intense El Niño is rare.

These two phenomena are closely related to hotter and drier conditions in Southeast Asia and much of Australia. When they occur simultaneously, they can result in extremely dry weather and heatwaves, potentially triggering wildfires across the entire region.

Hope for Tomorrow?

According to the WMO, since the 1980s, each decade has been warmer than the previous one, with nine of the hottest years recorded occurring since 2015. This trend indicates the increasing impact of global climate change, with significant implications, especially for developing countries.

Meanwhile, Antonio Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, expressed that human behavior can be likened to "burning the Earth." According to him, the year 2023 was just a glimpse into the future disasters awaiting us if immediate action is not taken.

In reality, the world already has the 2015 Paris Agreement designed to restrain the global temperature increase well below two degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels, and striving to stay below 1.5 degrees Celsius if possible. Even though the Earth's average surface temperature surpassed the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold in 2024, it does not signify a failure of the world to achieve the Paris Agreement's goal of keeping global warming in check. Efforts to reduce the Earth's temperature after the "overshoot" period are still allowed by the agreement, providing a positive outlook for safeguarding our planet.

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