Earth could overshoot 1.5 degrees for the first time in 2024
El Niño events can significantly impact weather conditions around the world. For example, northern regions of South America are likely to experience reduced rainfall and increased risk of fires and drought.
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Initial projections suggest an El Nino climate phenomenon could return later this year, potentially paving the way for global temperatures to surpass the critical 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold for the first time.
The Southern El Niño Oscillating System includes El Nino and La Nina — two opposing fluctuations in the Earth’s climate system that can have significant consequences for weather, wildfires, ecology and economy around the world.
Professor Adam Scaife, head of long-range forecasting at the UK Meteorological Office, described El Nino Southern Oscillation as “the largest single natural variation of climate that we know of over a span of time. a few years.”
El Nino — or “boy” in Spanish — is widely recognized as a warming of sea surface temperatures that occurs every few years. An El Nino is declared when sea temperatures in the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean rise by 0.5 degrees Celsius above the long-term average.
The expected return of El Nino comes after a prolonged La Nina period, which in general has the effect of lowering global temperatures lower than in normal years.
The past eight years are recorded as warmest eight on recordalthough La Nina conditions persisted for the third year in a row in 2022.
The hottest year on record, 2016, start with a strong El Nino helped to increase the global temperature.
It’s possible that if we have a big El Nino, we’ll be very close — and that could be the first year above 1.5 degrees.
Head of Long Range Forecasting at the Met . Office
El Niño impacts tend to peak in December, but the impact usually takes time to spread globally. This lagging effect is why forecasters believe that 2024 could be the first year humanity has crossed the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold.
“The big question then is what will happen at the end of the year?” Scaife told CNBC by phone. “We don’t know the answer to that question yet. It’s a bit early to say… but the chance right now, I would say, is between 60% and 70% for an El Niño next year.”
“There is a possibility that, if we have a big El Nino, we will be very close — and that could be the first year above 1.5 degrees,” Scaife said.
The world’s top climate scientists warning Last year, the fight to keep global temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius reached its “now or never” limit. Since then, climate forecasting centers have speak there is a 50-50 chance of an excess of 1.5 degrees Celsius in the coming years.
The 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold is the desired global temperature limit set within the mark Paris Agreement 2015. Its importance is widely recognized as the so-called tipping point is more likely to cross this level. The tipping point is the threshold at which small changes can lead to large changes in the entire Earth’s life-support system.
In a word, Scaife said that the impact of El Nino could lead to an increase in average global temperatures of about 0.2 degrees Celsius, “while the level of warming we currently have in the gas system The latter is 1.2 degrees Celsius. [degrees Celsius], which is six times larger. These natural fluctuations are really the icing on the cake.”
“There’s this tremendous underlying warming due to climate change. What we’re saying is that the first year above 1.5 will probably be an El Nino year, because that’s the year it increases by one year.” a little bit of natural warming,” Scaife said.
The impact of El Nino
Scaife said forecasts from the Meteorological Office show that the Pacific Ocean is currently about -0.5 degrees Celsius lower than normal. A neutral period could then give way to El Niño conditions 0.5 degrees Celsius above the normal base in June or July.
Eigil Kaas, chief science officer of the National Center for Climate Research in Denmark, told CNBC by phone: “Very often in the spring, there’s what we call the ‘spring barrier’ in terms of availability. predictive power of the El Nino phenomenon”.
The so-called spring barrier highlights uncertainty in the outlook for the El Nino Southern Oscillation for the first six months of the year.
“We haven’t crossed that barrier yet. Once we get over it, which means maybe by the end of April or May, the forecasts will become more certain,” Kaas said.
Weather conditions are likely to be drier than average in Indonesia during El Niño as rainfall moves out into the Pacific Ocean.
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When asked about the prospect of global temperatures surpassing the 1.5C threshold next year, Kaas replied: “It is indeed a possibility.”
“We can’t say yet how warm this El Nino will be, and that will really determine a lot whether we’re capable of beating the record and the 1.5-degree temperature limit,” said Kaas. . “It’s important to mention that there are a lot of weather and climate phenomena associated with El Nino, which are far away.”
El Niño events can significantly impact weather conditions around the world. For example, northern areas of South America are likely to experience reduced rainfall and increased risk of fires and drought.
Indonesia could also be drier than average as rainfall shifts to the Pacific, increasing the risk of wildfires. Meanwhile, drier conditions in eastern Australia could increase the risk of drought.
“For me, the real big story is that we’ve had extreme heat for the last three years while we’ve had La Nina. How many more will there be if we have a strong El Nino later this year? Of course. , it’s also interesting, but what’s amazing is that we’ve had very high temperatures globally in the last three years,” Kaas said.