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The worst El Niño ?

Photo credit: UN News Centre

Starting in 2011, drought-hit northern and eastern Kenya suffered especially from an already poor food security situation, exacerbated by high food and fuel prices. Credit: Jaspreet Kindra/IRIN

 

El Niño on track to be among worst ever, but world better prepared for fallout – UN

The current El Niño, a weather pattern of devastating droughts and catastrophic floods that can affect tens of millions of people around the globe, is expected to strengthen further by year’s end, on track to be one of the three strongest in 65 years, according to the latest update from the United Nations weather agency.

But the world is better prepared than ever to deal with the phenomenon, caused by the cyclical warming of the Equatorial Pacific Ocean, even though global warming has added a wild card to forecasting the severity of its impact, UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Secretary-General Michel Jarraud told a news conference in Geneva today.

“It’s not entirely clear how El Niño interacts with the changing climate,” he said, warning that it is playing out in uncharted territory due to global warming. “Even before the onset of El Niño, global average surface temperatures had reached new records. El Niño is turning up the heat even further.”

Based on advice from National Meteorological and Hydrological Services, the worst affected countries are already planning for the impact on agriculture, fisheries, water and health, and implementing disaster management campaigns to save lives and minimize economic damage and disruption, he added.

“Severe droughts and devastating flooding being experienced throughout the tropics and sub-tropical zones bear the hallmarks of this El Niño, which is the strongest for more than 15 years,” he said, noting that peak three-month average surface water temperatures in the east-central tropical Pacific Ocean will exceed 2 degrees Celsius above normal.

But, he stressed: “We are better prepared for this event than we have ever been in the past.”

Read the full article: UN News Centre 

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.