The La Nina weather phenomenon is expected to arrive later this year and bring cooler temperatures, after the heat records fueled by El Nino and broken month after month for a year.

“The 2023/24 El Nino phenomenon, which helped fuel a rise in global temperatures and extreme weather conditions around the world, is showing signs that it is coming to an end. There will likely be a return to La Nina conditions later this year”, indicates the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in its latest bulletin dedicated to these two natural meteorological phenomena, which have almost opposite impacts.

There is a 60% chance that La Nina will appear in the July-September period and increases to 70% in August-November, according to the WMO, which judges that “the risk of a reappearance of El Nino is negligible during this period”.

Before that, over the June-August period, the organization estimates that there is an equal chance (50%) that conditions will be neutral – neither Nino nor Nina – or a transition to La Nina.

– Natural phenomenon –
La Nina refers to the large-scale cooling of ocean surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific. It is associated with changes in tropical atmospheric circulation: winds, pressure and precipitation.

However, the precise effects vary depending on the intensity, the duration but also the time of year at which the phenomenon occurs and the interaction with other climatic phenomena, underlines the UN organization.

The effects also vary by region. In the tropics, La Nina produces climatic impacts opposite those of El Nino.

However, these natural climate events “are now occurring in the context of human-induced climate change, which is increasing global temperatures, exacerbating extreme weather and climate conditions, and impacting seasonal precipitation and temperature patterns “, recalls the WMO.

– Heat and hurricanes –
Every month since June 2023 has set a new temperature record – and 2023 was by far the hottest year on record.

“The end of El Nino does not mean a pause in long-term climate change, as our planet will continue to warm due to heat-trapping greenhouse gases. Exceptionally high sea surface temperatures will continue to play an important role in the coming months,” said Ko Barrett, Deputy Secretary-General of WMO, quoted in the press release.

Thus La Nina is already incorporated into the forecasts of the American Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for the 2024 hurricane season in the North Atlantic, which is due to begin in early June.

It promises to be “extraordinary”, with four to seven Category 3 or higher hurricanes possible, according to NOAA.

The WMO also recalls that the last nine years have been the hottest on record, despite the cooling effect of a long La Nina, which lasted from 2020 to early 2023.

As for El Nino, it peaked in December 2023 and is one of the five strongest on record.

“Our weather conditions will continue to be more extreme due to the additional heat and humidity in our atmosphere,” Ko Barrett further emphasizes.

“This is why the Early Warning for All initiative remains WMO’s top priority,” recalled the official.

The organization has made it a priority to ensure that the entire world population is covered by early warning systems for weather risks by the end of 2027 and in particular the most deprived areas as in Africa.

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