By Lizbeth Trujillo
Meteorologists predict that this fall and winter we are headed towards possibly one of the strongest El Niños ever recorded.
El Niño is a climate cycle that occurs irregularly in the Eastern Tropical Pacific every two to seven years. It has a big impact on weather around the world by weakening the trade winds blowing from East to West and raising sea surface temperatures.
Because El Niño has the potential to disrupt weather patterns, it could provide some places with more water than usual, such as California, but also leave some places, like Australia, in a drought.
In addition, El Niño transfers heat stored in the deeper layers of the ocean to the surface, causing overall temperatures to rise. Therefore, a strong El Niño could lead to record breaking hot days.
“We’re predicting this El Niño could be amongst the strongest El Niños in the historical record, dating back to 1950,” deputy director of the Climate Prediction Center Mark Halpert stated in a recent press call.
Although experts initially believed that this year’s El Niño would wear off over the summer, it keeps getting stronger. Ocean temperatures in the Eastern Tropical Pacific continue to grow at rapid rates.
Experts share the belief that this year’s El Niño could possibly make it the hottest year on record.
As the years have gone by, global temperatures have risen due to the excess in carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere. 2014 proved to be the hottest year on record although there was no El Niño that year, leaving us to wonder what El Niño combined with rising temperatures will bring.
Some of El Niño’s consequences from previous years include: dry weather in Australia that led to wildfires and lessened wheat yields, heavy flooding in Peru which contributed to the spread of cholera, and hot weather in India which reduced agricultural yields.
El Niño may be detrimental on some places, however it has the potential to ease California’s drought and bring overall milder winters to the U.S.
It is essential to keep in mind that every El Niño is different. Therefore, even though it usually brings rain to California, that is not a guarantee.