Geneva: An El Nino building up in the Pacific looks like being only a mild version of the phenomenon that has in the past brought devastation around the globe, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Wednesday.
But the United Nations weather agency warned that even a weak El Nino—a phenomenon in which changing sea temperatures in the Pacific Ocean affect weather around the world—could seriously disturb normal climate patterns in many regions, bringing drought to some places and heavy storms to others.
Changing temperatures: WMO says even a weak event, with temperatures only 0.5 degrees Celsius above normal, can have a substantial impact on climate patterns in many parts of the world. AFP
“What appears to be emerging is a weak to moderate El Nino, but one that will continue for the rest of this year and stretch into the first quarter of 2010,” senior WMO climate scientist Rupa Kumar Kolli told a news conference.
He said the new El Nino would have nothing like the strength of the 1997-98 version—the worst on record—which produced extreme weather that wreaked death and destruction across the southern hemisphere and parts of the north.
Both developing countries and richer nations have been anxiously watching the new event in the Pacific, fearing that even minor changes in weather patterns could seriously damage economies already battered by the global recession.
Kolli was presenting a WMO situation report and outlook for the alternating and linked El Nino/La Nina events in which sea surface temperatures in the Pacific, the world’s largest ocean, either climb above average or drop below it.
Kolli did not say how El Nino would affect any particular region.
The varying water temperatures alter atmospheric patterns and air circulation across other continents and seas, often combining with unrelated local weather developments to create wildly fluctuating extremes.
The WMO said even a weak event, with temperatures only 0.5 degrees Celsius above normal, “can have a substantial impact on climate patterns in many parts of the world”. Kolli said it could already be helping delay monsoons in India.