A new study published in the journal Science finds that the average El Niño costs the global economy around $3.4 trillion. This tab could run to $84 trillion by the end of the 21st century, as climate change continues to increase the frequency and duration of the El Niño weather pattern. “The fact that these events are so costly was definitely a surprise,” Chris Callahan, lead author and doctoral candidate at Dartmouth College, told the Washington Post.
“We have this sense that El Niño is a really big hammer that hits the Earth system every few years. But we didn’t have as much of a handle on its sort of macroeconomic implications, both what that means just on a year-to-year basis and what that might mean with future global warming,” Callahan told the AP. An El Niño weather pattern includes warming ocean temperatures in the Pacific and weaker trade winds that last from a few months to over a year. (AP, Axios, Gizmodo, Grist, The Guardian, New Scientist, The Conversation, Washington Post $, Bloomberg $; Climate Signals: El Niño and La Niña)