Climate scientists warn 2023 could have the highest average global temperature on record due to global warming and the anticipated return of El Niño.
According to The National Weather Service, El Niño, Spanish for “the boy,” is a feature of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) climate pattern. ENSO denotes the periodic variations in the surface temperature of the eastern Pacific Ocean.
During El Niño, western winds along the equator slow, pushing warm waters east and increasing the temperature of the ocean’s surface.
While during El Niña, Spanish for “the girl,” strong winds move warm waters west, causing cold water from the deep ocean to rise, lowering the surface temperature.
These warming and cooling phases usually occur every few years, last several months and vary in intensity. In addition, periods of El Niña and El Niño can impact the average global temperature.
The highest average global temperature was recorded in 2016 with a strong El Niño.
Last year the world experienced its third consecutive El Niña year. However, Professor James Hansen at Colombia University said, “It is unlikely that the current La Niña will continue a fourth year.”
Climate models published by the Copernicus Climate Change Service suggest returning El Niño conditions in late Summer 2023.
Carlo Buontempo, director of the service, said, “El Niño is normally associated with record-breaking temperatures at the global level. Whether this will happen in 2023 or 2024 is not yet known, but it is, I think, more likely than not.”
“If El Niño does develop, there is a good chance 2023 will be even hotter than 2016 – considering the world has continued to warm as humans continue to burn fossil fuels,” said Friederike Otto from Imperial College London’s Grantham Institute. Despite international efforts, global CO2 emissions continued to rise last year.
Due to climate change, the next period of El Niño, whether it falls in 2023 or 2024, will likely mark a record global temperature.
Will this be a wake-up call to action on global warming for the international community? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section.