El Niño is just a part of the overall ENSO (El Niño- Southern Oscillation) cycle, with the other half being La Niña. The reason El Niño is such a major impact on the global target of limiting climate change is that this natural phenomenon causes global changes to meteorological events, such as increased temperatures, rainfall and droughts.
These events occur at intervals anywhere between 2 and 7 years, with the most recent being 2018-2019, with the recent major event being 2016. Any event that last longer than 7 to 9 months is considered a "Condition", with anything longer being considered an "Episode".
These events are the results of a band of warm water in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific, where the cycle of warm and cold sea surface temperature occur. When warm water starts to travel further east than west from atmospheric conditions, the surface temperature increases from thermocline off the South American coast, and the westerly winds from the tropics.
El Niño can have disastrous effects on the global ecosystem, with El Niño commonly associated with weather extremes across the world. The massive influx of warm air results in the jetstream being pushed further north, which results in wetter weather in northern systems, and a greater shift in usual weather patterns, often to the extreme . Using the last El Niño extreme of 2016, Northern USA experienced some of the wettest seasons on record, with large snowfall througout winter. Thousands were displaced in Argentina, Paraguay and southern Brazil when rivers over flowed into residential areas, causing extensive damage to infrastructure and eco-systems.
In Central America, Indonesia, Southern Asia and Australia all experienced record breaking dry weather, with severe doughts impacting communities across the globe. This was particularly bad in Spain, where wildfires spread throughout the country at alarming rates through the year, with these wildfires largely being a precident for the 2019 wildfires that scorched the country, also a result of El Niño conditions.
While the globe saw record breaking temperatures, 2016 was only the UK's 13th warmest year since 1910 overall. However, the UK's winter was 1.8°C warmer than the UK average, at 5.5°C. This makes it the warmest winter the UK has had on record.
With El Niño conditions becoming more identifiable, and temperatures rising, the world could be in for more record breaking temperatures and rainfall throughout the rest of 2023-2024, or even further depending on the longevity. This will massively effect the UN's goal of limiting global climate change by 1.5°C.
This El Niño event is only a single phase of ENSO, but would give world leaders a strong idea of what the world will look like if countries do not start taking the decarbonisation movement seriously. Global temperate rise will only result in further extreme weather phenomenon. The UK's Goal of becoming Net Zero by 2050 is too far away, and greater, more decisive action must be taken to limit the effects of global climate change.
Pro Enviro is working alongside some incredible companies who are leading the way in decarbonisation. From achieving SBTi accreditation, to installing 1MW Solar PV systems, our client base is making active steps to reduce their impact on the planet. Together, we can help reduce the impact of human industrialisation, and reduce the negative effect climate change can have on human lives.