El Niño has passed peak strength but impacts will continue, UN warns

The El Niño that caused record temperatures, drought and floods over the last year has passed its peak strength but will continue to have humanitarian impacts for months to come, the UN has said.

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said the event, which plays havoc with weather systems around the world, was still strong and its impacts on communities in southern Africa, the Horn of Africa and Central America were becoming increasingly apparent.

El Niño is a global climate phenomenon that occurs every few years when a huge warm patch of water forms in the western tropical Pacific Ocean, affecting rainfall from the the western US and South America to Africa, India, Indonesia, and Australia. The UN World Food programme warned earlier this week that 100 million people were facing food and water shortages as a result of the El Niño.

The WMO said that although the current episode was closely comparable in strength with the record event of 1997-98, it was too early to say whether the 2015-16 El Niño was the strongest ever. The agency’s confirmation that the peak has passed follows similar recent announcements by national science agencies.

El Niño has played a key part, along with climate change, in driving global temperatures to record levels in 2015 and January 2016. The UN agency said the current episode would likely fade away during the second quarter of 2016.

-More at TheGuardian

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