Record-Breaking Temperatures Likely as El Nino Persists

News Excerpt:

According to  new research the global average surface temperatures will reach a record high in the year upto June 2024 due to El Nino.

El Nino:

  • El Nino is a climate pattern that describes the unusual warming of surface waters in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. Trade winds and atmosphere are also impacted by El Nino.
  • El Nino was first recognized by fishers off the coast of Peru as the appearance of unusually warm water. 
    • Spanish immigrants called it El Nino, meaning “the little boy”
  • El Nino is the “warm phase” of a larger phenomenon called the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). 
    • El Nino has an impact on ocean temperatures, the speed and strength of ocean currents, the health of coastal fisheries, and local weather from Australia to South America and beyond. 
    • El Nino events occur irregularly at two- to seven-year intervals.

Impact of El Nino:

  • El Nino produces widespread and sometimes severe changes in the climate. 
    • It causes rainfall to increase drastically in Ecuador and northern Peru, contributing to coastal flooding and erosion. 
    • El Nino brings rain to South America, it brings droughts to Indonesia and Australia.
    • More than half of El Nino years have caused droughts during the Monsoon, with all-India rainfall falling below 90% of the long-period average.
    • Stronger El Niño events also disrupt global atmospheric circulation

Finding of the new research:

  • The heat released to the atmosphere from the western Pacific Ocean during an El Nino causes an accelerated rise in annual global mean surface temperatures.
    • This slight increase “has been strongly linked to significant increases in surface air temperatures during extreme regional heating events,”
  • El Nino arrived in 2023, after a three-year-long run of La Nina, the cool phase of the recurring ENSO.
  • According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration El Nino was at its peak in December 2023. 
    • It is now starting to weaken, there is a 55% chance of La Nina developing in June-August 2024.
      • La Nina is considered to be El Nino's counterpart. 
      • Together, La Nina and El Nino are the "cold" (La Nina) and "warm" (El Nino) phases of the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). 
  • Their analysis showed that under a moderate El Nino scenario, the Bay of Bengal and the Philippines could experience record-breaking average surface air temperatures between July 2023 and June 2024.
  • Under a strong El Nino, these regions — along with the Caribbean Sea, South China Sea and areas of the Amazon and Alaska — were likely to face record-breaking average surface air temperatures.
  • The researchers projected that there was a 90% chance that the global mean surface temperature would break the historical record.

Impact of El Nino on foodgrain production in 2023-24 crop year:

  • India’s foodgrain production is estimated to be 6.1% lower in the 2023-24 crop year (July-June) because of poor monsoon caused by the El Nino.
    • Lower production of food grains can potentially add to inflationary pressures.

El Nino impact on the storage capacity of water reservoirs:

  • As per Central Water Commission (CWC) India’s 150 major reservoirs are facing water scarcity with the water level declining for the 21st week in a row.
    • Nearly 60% of reservoirs have water less than 50% of their total capacity.
    • Water level is below normal in 14 states.

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