Study: Global Warming Will Bring More ‘Extreme’ El Niño Events

The smoke stacks at American Electric Power's (AEP) Mountaineer coal power plant in New Haven, West Virginia, October 30, 2009. In cooperation with AEP, the French company Alstom unveiled the world's largest carbon capture facility at a coal plant, so called 'clean coal,' which will store around 100,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide a year 2.1 kilometers (7,200 feet) underground. 
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Ben Geman
Jan. 20, 2014, 2:49 a.m.

A new study pre­dicts that glob­al warm­ing will in­crease the fre­quency of “ex­treme” in­stances of El Niño, the Pa­cific Ocean warm­ing pat­tern that dis­rupts glob­al weath­er.

“Po­ten­tial fu­ture changes in such ex­treme El Niño oc­cur­rences could have pro­found so­cio-eco­nom­ic con­sequences,” states a sum­mary of the study pub­lished Sunday in the journ­al Nature Cli­mate Change.

It pre­dicts that oc­cur­rences of un­usu­ally strong El Niño events will double in fre­quency, from once every 20 years to once every 10 years. The ma­jor El Niño in 1997-1998 caused an es­tim­ated $35 bil­lion in dam­ages, the re­search­ers said.

“Dur­ing an ex­treme El Niño event coun­tries in the west­ern Pa­cific, such as Aus­tralia and In­done­sia, ex­per­i­enced dev­ast­at­ing droughts and wild­fires, while cata­stroph­ic floods oc­curred in the east­ern equat­ori­al re­gion of Ecuador and north­ern Peru,” said the lead au­thor, Dr. Wen­ju Cai of the Com­mon­wealth Sci­entif­ic and In­dus­tri­al Re­search Or­gan­isa­tion, which is Aus­tralia’s na­tion­al sci­ence agency.

Cli­mate Cent­ral has more here on the study re­leased Sunday.


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