Japan experienced its warmest spring on record this year, the national weather agency announced on June 1, as greenhouse gases and El Niño combine to send temperatures rising around the world.

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El Niño has arrived.

The United Nations Meteorological Agency announced the onset of a major climate phenomenon on Tuesday and warned that its return is paving the way for a likely rise in global temperatures and extreme weather conditions.

The World Meteorological Organization has estimated that there is a 90% chance that the El Niño event will persist into the second half of the year and is expected to be of “at least moderate strength”.

She called on governments around the world to respond to her statement by taking immediate action to protect lives and livelihoods.

“The onset of El Niño will greatly increase the likelihood of breaking temperature records and causing more extreme heat in many parts of the world and in the ocean,” said Petteri Taalas, WMO Secretary-General.

“The declaration of El Niño by the WMO is a signal to governments around the world to mobilize preparations to limit the impacts on our health, our ecosystems and our economies,” he said.

“Early warnings and predictable actions against the extreme weather events associated with this major climate phenomenon are vital to saving lives and livelihoods.”

The update follows a message from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in early June, which said El Niño conditions are present and “expected to gradually strengthen into the Northern Hemisphere winter.”

‘Yet Another Alarm Clock’

Separately, WMO message in May, led by the UK’s Met Office, warned that there was a 66% chance that the annual average global surface temperature would briefly exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels for at least one year between 2023 and 2027.

The 1.5 degree Celsius threshold is an aspirational global temperature limit set in landmark of the 2015 Paris Agreement. Its importance is widely recognized because so-called turning points are more likely to occur beyond this level. Tipping points are thresholds at which small changes can lead to dramatic shifts in the entire life support system on Earth.

A multi-purpose dust truck sprays cooling water on a street during hot weather in Handan, north China’s Hebei Province, on June 27, 2023.

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“This does not mean we will exceed the 1.5°C level set out in the Paris Agreement in the next five years, because that agreement refers to long-term warming over many years,” said Chris Hewitt, director of the WMO’s climate services.

“However, it is another wake-up call or an early warning that we are not yet on track to limit warming to the level of the Paris 2015 targets to substantially reduce the effects of climate change,” he added. added Hewitt.

What is El Niño?

The El Nino Southern Oscillation system is composed El Nino and La Nina – two opposite states of fluctuation in the Earth’s climate system that can have significant consequences for weather, wildfires, ecosystems and economies around the world.

El Niño – or “the little boy” in Spanish – is widely recognized as a warming of sea surface temperatures, a naturally occurring climate pattern that occurs on average every two to seven years.

An El Niño event is declared when sea temperatures in the tropical eastern Pacific rise 0.5 degrees Celsius above the long-term average. Episodes usually last between nine and 12 months.

The Met Office recently confirmed that it was the hottest June on record for the UK, with an average monthly temperature of 15.8°C.

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The effects of El Niño tend to peak during December, but it usually takes some time for the impact to spread around the world. This lagged effect is why forecasters believe 2024 could be the first year humanity exceeds 1.5 degrees Celsius. Global average temperatures in 2022 were 1.1 degrees Celsius warmer compared to the late 19th century.

The hottest year on record in 2016 began with a strong El Nino that helped raise global temperatures.

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