UN weather agency sees climate threat from El Niño ebb for rest

21 November 2008Any increased risk that El Niño conditions, the periodic warming of the eastern Pacific Ocean that can have a serious impact on climate across much of the world, may develop later this year have receded, the United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced today. “Surface waters remain only marginally warmer than normal in the central and eastern Equatorial Pacific, and not strongly organized large-scale sub-surface warming has emerged,” the WMO reported its press release reviewing current El Niño and La Niña conditions.El Niño and La Niña bring significant temperature fluctuations in surface waters of the tropical belt of the Pacific Ocean: an El Niño event sees a rise in temperatures and La Niña witnesses a drop in normal temperatures.These temperature changes are strongly linked to major climate fluctuations around the world, especially in Latin America, Australia and East Asia, which can last for a whole year or more. The strong El Niño event of 1997-1998 was followed by a prolonged La Niña that extended from mid-1998 to early 2001.“Forecast models are in general agreement that near-neutral conditions will prevail through the remainder of 2008, and that there is no substantial risk of El Niño or La Niña through the remainder of 2008 and indeed into early 2009,” WMO said.Tropical Pacific conditions and forecast models will be closely monitored over the coming months, however, as experts can not make definitive projections for the phenomenon’s favoured time of year of March to May. The WMO warned that anyone using the ocean should still keep their guard up against extreme weather conditions. read more