As the impacts of global warming and climate change continue to cause debate and uncertainty, the possible effect that changing weather patterns have on La Nina and El Nino events has been the research of certain scientists for some time now.
A recent article on the BBC and Reuters website, explains that scientists from Australia, China, the U.S., U.K. and Peru, believe that global warming will almost double extreme La Nina events in the Pacific Ocean.
While it’s still not possible to say with certainty that this is the case, the research does suggest that climate change is one factor that could increase the risks of extreme weather events taking place more frequently and with a greater severity.
El Nino and La Nina events are complicated weather patterns that occur from changing ocean temperatures in the Pacific. The latter, which is what the scientists are concerned with, takes place unpredictably every two to seven years, and is often to referred to as the cold phase, with El Nino being the warm element.
The latest research data, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, claims that global warming’s impact on the ocean will see an extreme La Nina event occur once in every 13 years, compared to the previous once in every 23 years, but not everyone is entirely convinced by the latest findings.
Antonietta Capotondi, from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth System Research Laboratory, has called for further studies to be conducted concerning a link between rising La Nina events and global warming, as it seemed “counter-intuitive that La Nina’s, linked to cooler waters, might happen more often in a warmer world.”
In response to this, albeit not directly, the scientists predict that the majority of these extreme La Nina events would happen after extreme El Nino events, resulting in double the impact over a shorter period of time, but again there isn’t any solid proof of this.
Prof Mat Collins, Joint Met Office Chair in Climate Change at Exeter University, England, is a co-researcher on the project and feels that the scientific world is starting to better understand how global warming can impact these tropical Pacific phenomena’s, adding; “It shows again how we are just beginning to understand the consequences of global warming.”
Furthermore the research states that increased La Nina activity will result in harsher droughts in the states and increased flooding in the Western Pacific, with some parts of the world switching between extreme wet and dry conditions.
Again it’s important to stress that it’s certainly not definitive that global warming and climate change directly impact La Nina and El Nino events, but that it is increasingly accepted as a factor that has the potential to increase the severity and frequency of such events.
While there remains no definite link, the fact that scientists forecast more frequent severe La Nina events should be noted by the reinsurance, insurance-linked securities (ILS) and weather risk transfer markets. More severe La Nina’s likely also mean more severe El Nino events, and with scientists also seeking to establish links between these weather phenomena and the severity of tropical cyclone and hurricane seasons, it is advisable to remain informed.