New data suggests the 2014 El Niño will have a major global impact. Anthony Barnston, with the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, said this year’s El Niño has a 70 percent chance of making a significant impact on the world’s climate and weather.
In general, an El Niño is the temporary warming of the central and eastern Pacific Ocean and equatorial regions. As the warming is expected to continue for months, the impact could be significant.
In increase in the ocean’s temperature creates an imbalance, which influences global weather patterns. Historically, the warming has been blamed for increased droughts, heat waves, hurricanes, and substantial rainfall.
As reported by Mother Jones, the weather disturbances generally have a specific impact on Asia, North America, and South America. In March, a reversal of the Pacific trade winds prompted forecasters to issue an El Niño warning.
New data suggests the 2014 El Niño has continued to gain strength. ABC meteorologist Melissa Griffin believes the event “could be strong enough to make 2014 the globally warmest year on record.” The effects are likely to continue to impact global weather patterns through 2015.
The 2014 El Niño will likely begin sometime between April and June, and last for a total of eight to ten months. Although the effect will likely be negative for many regions, it may benefit California.
As California has experience severe drought, heavy rains may replenish the soil and prevent wildfires. Unfortunately, the rain is expected to extend throughout the western and southern United States, where the excess water could lead to flooding and landslides.
Although many residents will notice a change in weather patterns, the impact below the ocean’s surface is also significant. NOAA reports that temperature changes can negatively impact numerous species of fish:
“El Niño events typically result in observations of tropical, warm water species moving north (thereby extending their range). Cold water species move north or into deeper water (thereby restricting their range). Surface-oriented, schooling fish often disperse and move into deeper waters. Fishes that remain in an affected region experience reduced growth, reproduction, and survival.”
Species impacted by El Niño generally include tuna fishes, seabass, ocean barracuda, mackerel, mahi mahi, and rockfish. As the warm water can also destroy habitats, Pacific sand sockeye salmon could experience a significant loss.
As the 2014 El Niño will likely have a global impact, experts are closely monitoring any fluctuation in the temperature of the Pacific Ocean.
[Images via Mother Jones and NOAA]