The La Nina weather phenomenon, which has affected global temperatures and exacerbated droughts and floods, is likely to continue for months and possibly into 2023, the UN warned on Friday.
La Nina refers to the large-scale cooling in surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific that occurs every two to seven years.
The United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said there was a 70 percent chance that the protracted La Nina event, which has gripped the globe almost continuously since September 2020, will last until at least August.
“Some long-term predictions even suggest it could last into 2023,” the statement said.
If so, it would be only the third so-called triple-dip La Nina — meaning the phenomenon has occurred in three consecutive northern hemisphere winters — since 1950, the WMO said.
The effect has far-reaching implications for weather around the world – typically the opposite impact to the El Nino phenomenon, which has a warming impact on global temperatures.
The devastating drought in the Horn of Africa and the drought in southern South America “bear the hallmarks of La Nina,” the WMO said.
It also said above-average rainfall in Southeast Asia and Australia could be linked to the phenomenon, as could forecasts for an above-average Atlantic hurricane season.
However, it emphasized that the impacts of naturally occurring climate events such as La Nina were amplified due to a warming planet.
“Human-caused climate change is amplifying the effects of natural events like La Nina, increasingly affecting our weather patterns,” WMO chief Petteri Taalas said in a statement.
In particular, he pointed to “greater heat and drought and the associated risk of wildfires, as well as record-breaking torrential rain and flooding.”
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