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Dublin: 12 °C Friday 17 August, 2018
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Remember that mad weather in 1997? It could be back again this year...

The “El Niño” climate phenomenon has reared its head once more.

Image: sad pug in the rain via Shutterstock

Updated 11.01pm

IF YOU DIDN’T get outside to sample today’s glorious weather, you might want to catch it before it’s gone.

The United Nations weather agency has warned there is a good chance of the “El Niño” climate phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean developing this year, bringing either droughts or heavy rainfall to the rest of the world.

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said its modelling suggested a “fairly large potential for an El Niño, most likely by the end of the second quarter of 2014.”

“If an El Niño event develops … it will influence temperatures and precipitation and contribute to droughts or heavy rainfall in different regions of the world,” WMO chief Michel Jarraud said in a statement.

The last El Niño occurred between June 2009 and May 2010, with one of the strongest ever spells occurring in 1997.

The phenomenon occurs every two to seven years, when the prevailing trade winds that circulate surface water in the tropical Pacific start to weaken.

WMO pointed out Tuesday that since February, trade winds had weakened and there had been a significant warming of the waters below the surface in the central Pacific.

“While there is no guarantee this situation will lead to an El Niño event, the longer the trade winds remain weakened, and sub-surface temperatures stay significantly warmer than average, the higher the likelihood,” it said.

Two thirds of climate models predicted that the phenomenon would begin sometime between June and August, with a few suggesting it could start as early as May, and the remainder predicting no El Niño this year, it said.

It is often followed by a return swing of the pendulum with La Nina, which is characterised by unusually cool ocean surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific.

Scientists, who closely monitor the two climate patterns, say that while they are not caused by climate change, rising ocean temperatures caused by global warming may affect their intensity and frequency.

“El Niño has an important warming effect on global average temperatures,” Jarraud cautioned, stressing that combined with human-induced warming from greenhouse gases such events had “the potential to cause a dramatic rise in global mean temperature.”

© – AFP, 2014

Originally published 2.56pm

Confirmed: RTÉ weather say there’s good drying out there >

More: Lots of people woke up to find their car covered in sand this morning >

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