GENEVA (AFP) – The weather phenomenon La Nina, which has affected global temperatures and worsened drought and flooding, will likely continue for months, and possibly even into 2023, the UN warned on Friday (June 10).
La Nina refers to the large-scale cooling of surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, occurring every two to seven years. In South-east Asia it normally triggers above average rainfall and flooding.
The UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said there was a 70 per cent chance that the protracted La Nina event – which has held the globe in its clutches almost uninterrupted since September 2020 – will continue until at least August.
“Some long-lead predictions even suggest that it might persist into 2023,” it said in a statement.
If it does, this would be only the third so-called triple-dip La Nina – meaning the phenomenon is present during three consecutive northern hemisphere winters – on record since 1950, WMO said.
The effect has widespread impacts on weather around the world – typically the opposite impacts to the El Nino phenomenon, which has a warming influence on global temperatures.
The devastating drought ravaging the Horn of Africa and the drought in southern South America “bear the hallmarks of La Nina”, WMO said.
It also said the recent above average rainfall in South-east Asia and Australia could be linked to the phenomenon, as could the predictions for an above average Atlantic hurricane season.
However, it stressed the impacts of naturally occurring climate events like La Nina were intensifying due to a warming planet.
“Human-induced climate change amplifies the impacts of naturally-occurring events like La Nina and is increasingly influencing our weather patterns,” WMO chief Petteri Taalas said in a statement.
He pointed in particular to “more intense heat and drought and the associated risk of wildfires – as well as record-breaking deluges of rainfall and flooding”.