El Niño returns: Rare weather event behind scorching temperatures set to hit UK

12 July 2023, 13:32

El Niño has returned
El Niño has returned. Picture: Alamy/Met Office

By Emma Soteriou

A rare weather event has returned for the first time in seven years, causing temperatures to soar across the world.

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El Nino is a weather event that occurs between every two to seven years as the Pacific Ocean warms up and charges parts of the atmosphere.

The event leads to more extreme weather conditions - much like those currently happening across Europe.

Meteorologists confirmed its arrival last month, saying there would be an increased risk of droughts as a result.

Due to the surge in global temperatures, the World Meteorological Organisation warned that some countries would even need to go as far as to take action to save lives.

It comes after it was revealed that one man has already died in Italy while working in the scorching heat.

Read more: Europe's Cerberus heatwave claims first life as worker dies in 40C heat and British tourist faints at Colosseum

Read more: When is the next heatwave in the UK?

The last El Nino was in 2016, when the country suffered a record hot year, and the Met Office has now said that is likely the UK will once again see a new record this year.

Grahame Madge, a spokesman for the Met Office, told the Mirror: “As Michael Mann [a climatologist] put it, think of climate change as being the rising tide then El Niño is the wave riding on top.

“El Nino is not solely responsible for the high temperatures, but when you add it onto the anthropogenic warming… then it’s likely to take global temperatures to a new record year.

“It’s very likely that this year or next will be a new record year surpassing 2016… there is now a greater likelihood that that rise will be 1.5 or above, which resonates due to the Paris Agreement, which will show how close we’re getting to that threshold.”

The atmosphere is charged by the warming ocean
The atmosphere is charged by the warming ocean. Picture: Met Office/Social media

El Nino will not only impact the UK but the whole world, with it likely to cause forest fires in Australasia and South East Asia.

Mr Madge said in a typical El Nino year there was also a “known connection” for late January and February to be colder than normal.

“There’s a greater chance of colder conditions towards the end of winter, but sometimes that is swamped by a very active weather pattern from the Atlantic,” he went on to say.

“The biggest driver for us in winter is the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)… this drives weather systems into Europe over winter.

“So if we’ve got El Nino sending a signal for a colder winter, and the NAO for more storms those will have to balance out.

“Just because there is an association between colder end to winter it doesn’t mean we’ll hit a deep freeze, by a degree or so which might not be that noticeable.”

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