El Niño will likely arrive later this summer according to the latest report issued from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) Climate Prediction Center on June 5, 2014.
El Niño events are marked by long periods of unusually warm sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. They occur about every two to seven years and are watched closely because they can affect temperature and precipitation patterns across the globe.
The chance of an El Niño developing later this summer is 70%, according to NOAA scientists. That chance increases to approximately 80% in the autumn.
Current oceanic and atmospheric conditions are in what scientists call a “neutral state,” meaning that there is neither an El Niño nor a La Niña (a phenomenon similar to El Niño but with cold sea surface temperatures) present. However, above average sea surface temperatures have been expanding across the equatorial Pacific Ocean since early May 2014 and the probability of an El Niño developing is becoming more and more likely.
Here is a video showing what temperatures in the Pacific look like during El Niño and La Niña.
Scientists are still unsure how strong the upcoming El Niño event will be. The best estimates right now suggest that the El Niño will be of moderate strength, but those estimates could change as the event draws nearer.
Strong El Niño events can cause damaging floods and droughts in certain parts of the world. During the strong 1997–1998 El Niño, for example, Peru and Ecuador were hit hard by flooding whereas Indonesia experienced one of its worst droughts on record.
The next report from NOAA is due out on July 10, 2014.
Bottom line: There is a 70% chance that El Niño will arrive later this summer, according to the latest report issued from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center on June 5, 2014. The upcoming El Niño might be of moderate strength.
Deanna Conners is an Environmental Scientist who holds a Ph.D. in Toxicology and an M.S. in Environmental Studies. Her interest in toxicology stems from having grown up near the Love Canal Superfund Site in New York. Her current work is to provide high-quality scientific information to the public and decision-makers and to help build cross-disciplinary partnerships that help solve environmental problems. She writes about Earth science and nature conservation for EarthSky.