Frequency of extreme El Niños to double as globe warms

Source: Nature

Australia Bureau of Meteorology/Trevor Farrar.
Severe El Niño-linked drought caused a massive dust storm in Melbourne, Australia, on 8 February 1983.

Global-warming’s impact on the tropical Pacific Ocean has been hotly contested, but an analysis now suggests that powerful warming events in the eastern equatorial region, known as El Niños, are likely to double as greenhouse-gas emissions rise this century.

The study, published today in Nature Climate Change1, focuses only on extreme events such as the 1997‒1998 El Niño, which affected weather across the globe. Climate models have long differed regarding global-warming’s precise impact on El Niño and its sister effect, La Niña, which cools the same area. But the current analysis finds agreement when it comes to major rainfall trends caused by the most intense El Niños.

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