La Nina “acted as a temporary brake on global temperature increase”, WMO chief Petteri Taalas said in a statement.
“The development of an El Nino will most likely lead to a new spike in global heating and increase the chance of breaking temperature records,” he warned.
“MORE EXTREME WEATHER”
At this stage, there is no indication of the strength or duration of the looming El Nino.
The last one was considered weak, but the one before that, between 2014 and 2016, was considered strong, with dire consequences.
WMO pointed out that 2016 was “the warmest year on record because of the ‘double whammy’ of a very powerful El Nino event and human-induced warming from greenhouse gases”.
Since the El Nino effect on global temperatures usually plays out the year after it emerges, the impact will likely be most apparent in 2024, it said.
“The world should prepare for the development of El Nino,” Taalas said.
This “might bring respite from the drought in the Horn of Africa and other La Nina-related impacts, but could also trigger more extreme weather and climate events” he said, stressing the need for effective early warning systems “to keep people safe”.