Many parts of the world are likely to see above-average temperatures over the next few months – even without a natural “El Nino” effect which pushes up the mercury, experts said.
The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) warned that the signal from human-induced climate change was now as powerful as the natural phenomenon which drives warmer temperatures.
The WMO said there was a 60% chance of a “neutral” situation, without an El Nino or its opposite La Nina, over the months from March to May. There is only a 35% chance of an El Nino developing and just 5% for a La Nina.
The El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a naturally occurring phenomenon in the Pacific which has a warming influence on global temperatures and is also linked to heavy rains, floods and droughts.
Meteorological #winter ends this weekend. #France just had its warmest winter since 1900, 2.7Â°C above the long-term baseline (1981-2010), according to @meteofrance. It was one of the 3 warmest Februarys on record.#ClimateChange pic.twitter.com/cPbN03jxf1— WMO | OMM (@WMO) February 28, 2020
Despite the likely absence of an El Nino, the WMO forecasts that there will be above-average sea surface temperatures in many parts of the world, which will lead to higher than normal land temperatures.
Climate change is contributing to the above-average sea surface temperature and air temperature forecast, the WMO said.
The UN agency’s secretary-general Petteri Taalas said: “Even ENSO neutral months are warmer than in the past, as air and sea surface temperatures and ocean heat have increased due to climate change.
“With more than 90% of the energy trapped by greenhouse gases going into the ocean, ocean heat content is at record levels.
“Thus, 2016 was the warmest year on record as a result of a combination of a strong El Nino and human-induced global warming. 2019 was the second-warmest year on record, even though there was no strong El Nino.
“We just had the warmest January on record. The signal from human-induced climate change is now as powerful as that from a major natural force of nature,” he said.