The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Thursday officially declared that an El Niño has formed in the Pacific Ocean, and forecasters expect the phenomenon will bring hotter temperatures to an already heated world. The El Niño/La Niña cycle is the natural oscillation of the warming and cooling (respectively) of the Pacific Ocean, meaning that global temperatures — already heated by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels — will likely be pushed even higher.
“The onset of El Niño has implications for placing 2023 in the running for warmest year on record when combined with climate-warming background,” University of Georgia meteorology professor Marshall Shepherd, told the AP.
The phenomenon formed 1-2 months earlier than normal, which gives it over a 50% chance of being classified as “strong,” and a 25% chance of being supersized, according to Michelle L’Heureux, who leads NOAA’s El Nino/La Nina forecast office. El Niño cycles have wide-ranging effects on extreme weather worldwide, but one of the usual impacts — a muted Atlantic hurricane season — is unlikely to happen this year. Record hot Atlantic Ocean temperatures are expected to counteract hurricane-diminishing wind patterns. (AP, Washington Post $, Vox, Bloomberg $, Axios, Reuters)