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How will this year's predicted El Nino affect our climate?

Paul Hudson

For the first time since 2009, computer simulations are suggesting that an El Nino event is likely as we head into the second half of this year.

 

El Nino is the name given to describe an upwelling of warmer than average water in the Equatorial Pacific, and is known to disrupt climate patterns around the world.

 

During previous El Nino events, much wetter winters have occurred in Southwest USA.

 

For California, the developing El Nino will therefore be very welcome news as the state has recently suffered the worst drought on record due to a chronic lack of rainfall.

 

Amongst other areas which will be affected is Northern Australia, where drought conditions are expected.

 

El Nino is also associated with warm and very wet weather during summer months along the coast of northern Peru, for example.

 

As for Europe and the UK, the consequences of El Nino are much less clear.

 

Research suggests that the main impact is more likely to be felt in winter, causing colder, drier conditions in Northern Europe, and wetter, milder winters through southern Europe and the Mediterranean.

 

During the last El Nino of 2009/2010, the winter across northern Europe, including the UK was exceptionally cold.

 

But there are many other variables which affect Europe’s climate and there was a deep, protracted solar minimum at the same time, which is known to increase the likelihood of colder winters.

 

And despite El Nino of 2006/2007, Europe’s winter was mild.

 

One of the other main consequences of the predicted El Nino later this year would be to boost global temperatures.

 

It could mean either 2014 or 2015 will become the hottest year globally on record.

 

One way of the other, El Nino will certainly have the potential to grab the headlines later this year.

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