Climate scientists warned temperatures in the Pacific have increased by
THREE degrees Fahrenheit in recent weeks as ocean winds have weakened.
so-called El Nino phenomenon, which has a huge impact on the world's
weather, has only been stronger twice before in recorded history - the
last time in 1997, when a series of violent 100MPH Atlantic storms
slammed into the UK.
And experts claimed this year's El Nino is
STILL strengthening and could soon break all historical records with the
extreme weather patterns lastng until next Spring - meaning Britain
could face one of the worst winter storm seasons in living memory.
Leon Brown, of The Weather Channel UK, said the super-strength El Nino
could even dislodge the jetstream, leading to more unstable weather in
the UK this autumn.
He said: "A more mobile weather pattern through winter increases the risk of a wetter, stormier season in the UK.
"The biggest impact of El Nino is around the tropics as we have started to see with a greater number of tropical storms
"However it is a very powerful phenomenon and has knock-on effects across the globe in America, Asia, Australia and Europe.
are signs that this year a significant El Nino is building. We think it
could drive a strong jetstream which can lead to a more mobile weather
pattern and very changeable and stormy weather as we head into winter."
He added that although Pacific cyclones do not usually affect our
weather, due to the high volume being caused by El Nino - there have
been a record 19 so far - there is a chance one could steer off course.
"One of these could move northwards and across China,” he said.
"Then it can have an effect on the jetstream by nudging it out of its current position.
"Depending on which way the jet is pushed by the storm, it will lead to cooler weather or milder more unstable conditions.”
this year oceanologists and meteorologists confirmed a pattern of
warming driven by a weakening of sea winds had started in the waters
However in the past few weeks experts say it has
escalated with the strongest event for at least 50 years or even on
record now likely.
El Nino is linked to major global climate
events including weak monsoons in India, heavy rain and storms in North
America and Europe including the UK, and floods in Australia.
are concerned it is being stoked by the large number of significant
tropical storms which have swept the region since the start of summer.
Three times the normal number of cyclones have developed over the now exceptionally warm Pacific waters with 19 recorded so far.
El Nino - which means ‘the boy child’ because it was first observed at
Christmas - is the result of ocean warming in the eastern Pacific.
Ocean currents are typically driven by easterly ‘Trade Winds’ which push warm water away from South America and towards Asia.
catalyst for an El Nino event is a weakening of these winds which can
be replaced altogether by westerlies blowing towards South America.
water accumulates around the coast of Peru while ‘upwelling’ - the
rising of cold water to replace lost surface water - is hampered.
overall effect is an increase in temperature of the eastern Pacific
which although only is a by few degrees, has major global knock-on
effects or ‘teleconnections’.
The most immediate consequence of
El Nino over the past weeks has been a run of typhoons driven by warm
water evaporating to create a moist and very unstable atmosphere over
A steeper temperature and pressure gradient between
the tropics and the polar regions is now pulling the jet stream over
northern Europe and America.
Just exactly how El Nino plays out in the UK and Europe over the next
few months is dependant on the influence of another factor - the North
Atlantic Oscillation (NAO).
Currently the NAO is in a positive
phase - the result of a semi-permanent low pressure system over Iceland
deepening while pressure rises in the Bermuda region.
creates a large pressure gradient across Europe helping westerly winds
strengthen and directing Atlantic storms on a northerly track across
Mr Brown said the delicate balance between these
two major influencers will govern just how Britain and the rest of
Europe is affected by El Nino.
"There are many factors which will affect what happens,” he said.
experts say there are certain effects on the weather caused by El Nino,
others say different things, the truth is there are many factors which
come into play and it is uncertain.
"Without a doubt though, El
Nino does have a significant impact - affecting the monsoon in India,
the ocean currents around South America and the weather in Europe and
across the United States.”
Dr Nick Klingaman, climate scientist from the Department of Meteorology
at the University of Reading, said because observational records are
still scarce it is difficult to predict the outcome of this year’s El
He said it is already the third biggest on record and is showing signs of becoming the most significant event ever seen.
He said the main effects will hit Asia and America with the UK and Europe impact this year still very uncertain.
Nino affects northern Europe and America because of changes to air
currents in the tropics which then reach the extra-tropical Pacific and
then the Atlantic,” he explained.
"In the UK there is a slight
tendency towards cooler winters but there is evidence showing that the
impacts in early winter can differ from later on in the season.
the US the weather is more governed by the Pacific so El Nino has a
greater effect there, the UK and Europe is more Atlantic driven.”
During an El Nino event sea level rises by as much as 20 centimetres in
the eastern Pacific while the temperature lifts by around 7C.
Warm water starts to evaporate causing already low pressure in the region to deepen triggering intense storms.
most severe El Nino events of the past century occurred in 1982 - 1983
and 1997 - 1998 when typhoons ripped through the Pacific and Indian
Oceans killing 40 people and damaging 10,000 buildings.
Nino dies down circulation returns to normal although currents can swing
in the other direction producing a cooling effect along the
South-American coast called La Nina - ‘the girl’.
The current El
Nino event is under the watchful eye of meteorologists across the world
as it can devastate farming and fish harvests.
AccuWeather’s global weather centre said the world could be facing the strongest El Nino in 50 years.
threatens storms in parts of the US including California, heavy rain
and floods in western Australia and an unsettled UK winter.
Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson said: "El Nino has steadily
strengthened over the past month and is now approaching strong category
”Confidence continues to grow that this El Niño will be one of the stronger El Niños over the past 50 years.
”El Niño typically reaches its peak during the December through February period.
"The strongest El Niño on record since the beginning of the 20th century occurred during 1997-98.”