Headlines: El Nino and La Nina in a Warming World Will Become More Extreme

December 4, 2013 – The El Nino and La Nina or Southern Oscillation (ENSO) are expected to become more exaggerated as temperatures rise here on Earth. A new study published on November 17, 2013 in Nature, the International Weekly Journal of Science, states that extreme weather events like droughts and floods are expected to increase in frequency and intensity.

Scientists have recognized the ENSO phenomenon since the 1920s. But it wasn’t until the 1990s that an El Nino was fully described from start to finish. Today Earth observation satellites track ENSO and predict occurrences by measuring ocean surface temperatures, surface winds, ocean colour and precipitation. Typically the El Nino part of ENSO begins with a warming of the eastern mid-Pacific Ocean. This warming has been associated with intense weather events from Australia to western North America where it has been blamed for floods.

But the new climate model predicts the warming atmosphere will alter upper ocean currents in the equatorial Pacific with easterly flows becoming enhanced during El Ninos and westerly flows enhanced during La Ninas. The westerly flows show weakening under global warming doubling the occurrences of El Ninos.

The lead author is Dr. Scott Power of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology who has stated that global warming will exaggerate and increase ENSO-induced droughts and floods setting new records from more extreme weather events.


El Nino


Len Rosen lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is a researcher and writer who has a fascination with science and technology. He is married with a daughter who works in radio, and a miniature red poodle who is his daily companion on walks of discovery. More...