What Is The ‘La Nina’ And How Would It Affect Global Temperatures?

The United Nations weather agency has predicted a mysterious weather pattern that could worsen climate patterns across the globe.

Last Wednesday, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said La Nina conditions, which involve a large-scale cooling of ocean surface temperatures, have strengthened in the eastern and central equatorial Pacific with an increase in trade winds in recent weeks.

The La Nina has been described as a weather pattern in the Pacific Ocean that causes strong winds to blow warm water at the ocean’s surface from South America to some parts of Southern Asia. This swift change in sea level temperatures can cause severe climate conditions like drought, and flooding, while also exacerbating conditions that are already proving challenging, like global warming.

According to reports, the last La Nina caused extra-large hailstones to strike south-eastern Queensland, while New South Wales saw the worst floods in half a century. At least two people died, and more than 20,000 were evacuated as rivers broke their banks. The ongoing drought in Afghanistan has also been associated with La Nina, often described as the El Nino – an opposite phenomenon – associated with warming in parts of the world.

The La Nina weather event and its more famous counterpart El Niño typically occur every 3 to 7 years but on occasion, can occur over successive years. According to the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, this century’s previous La Niñas began in 1903, 1906, 1909, 1916, 1924, 1928, 1938, 1950, 1954, 1964, 1970, 1973, 1975, 1988, 1995,1998, 2007, 2010.

According to the weather organization, due to global warming, the cooling effect currently being experienced is only short-lived and would not stop or reverse the long-term warming trend that would be exacerbated by El Nino.

“Its cooling influence is temporarily slowing the rise in global temperatures, but it will not halt or reverse the long-term warming trend,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said.

How Would This Trend Affect Africa

While the Pacific Ocean does not border any part of Africa, the Atlantic’s connection with the Pacific makes it impossible for Africa not to experience any of the effects of La Nina or El Nino.

According to the WMO, the drought in the Horn of Africa and southern South America “bears the hallmarks of La Nina”.

“The new La Nina update, unfortunately, confirms regional climate projections that the devastating drought in the Horn of Africa will worsen and affect millions of people,” Petteri Taalas said.

The WMO also projected that drought is set to worsen with a fifth consecutive failed rainy season, causing an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe in Africa.

Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are already going through their worst drought for 40 years.

Patsy Nwogu

Reporting on data-driven featured stories and investigations.

Related post