La Nina’s 3 Year Run is Over. Scientists Await El Nino’s Wrath

March 17, 2023

Kevin Trenberth interview above, should start about 2:50, where he is describing what we’ve been seeing in El Nino events – which we were in the midst of in december 2015, when this was recorded.
What he describes is pretty much what we saw – record temps in 2016, the hottest year in the global record. We have only seen a weak El Nino since then, in 2018-19, and temps have been bouncing around more or less static, especially as we have now seen 3 back to back La Nina years – times when the Pacific is normally pulling in more heat – but even the “cool” years are warm compared to decades past.


El Niño events occur roughly every two to seven years, as the warm cycle alternates irregularly with its sibling La Niña—a cooling pattern in the eastern Pacific—and with neutral conditions. El Niño typically peaks between November and January, though the buildup can be spotted months in advance and its effects can take months to propagate around the world.

Though El Niño is not caused by climate change, it often produces some of the hottest years on record because of the vast amount of heat that rises from Pacific waters into the overlying atmosphere. Major El Niño events—such as 1972-73, 1982-83, 1997-98, and 2015-16—have provoked some of the great floods, droughts, forest fires, and coral bleaching events of the past half-century.

As you’ll notice in the graph above from NASA – both the cooler La Nina and the warmer El Nino years are warming up – what used to be a record warm year would be a relatively “cool” one today – but El Nino years are when we expect new global records to be set.

Now, as Robert Rohde notes, La Nina is officially over, there is a high likelihood of the next El Nino firing up in the fall – if Trenberth’s model holds true, expectations are for a fiery hot global record in 2024.



One Response to “La Nina’s 3 Year Run is Over. Scientists Await El Nino’s Wrath”

  1. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    Oh, goody.

    It’s not as if we had massive heat waves in India, China and Europe in 2022….

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