Photo: Copernicus Sentinel / NASA / Aton Chile / IMAGO

The El Niño weather phenomenon will continue between December this year and February 95 with a probability of more than 2024 percent. This was stated by a leading meteorologist of the US government on Thursday. He warned that global heatwaves and floods could intensify in several countries.

This forecast is in line with estimates by the U.S. climate research agency NOAA, the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) and the Japan Meteorological Service, which predicted a 90 percent probability of the phenomenon continuing until winter.

On average, an El Niño occurs every two to seven years. During the natural weather phenomenon, the ocean and air currents over the South Pacific change, which affects the world with extreme weather of various kinds and causes temperatures to rise overall.

What is El Niño and what is climate change?

Because it additionally heats up parts of the earth, it can also exacerbate the consequences of climate change. According to climate researchers from the World Weather Attribution initiative, the extraordinary heat wave in the North Atlantic is a combination of climate change and the El Niño weather phenomenon. According to the study, the heat waves in southern Europe and the USA would have been virtually impossible without climate change. They assume that the larger share is due to climate change – the role of El Niño has not yet been conclusively clarified.

In Pacific regions, on the other hand, the impact of El Niño is quite clear. Experts therefore expect temperature records to continue this year.

The weather phenomenon has already led to natural disasters around the world, with emerging markets being hit harder. "We're breaking new ground," said Chris Hewitt, head of climate service at WMO. "The warmer it gets worldwide, the worse the effects become."

Strong El Niño could be dangerous for millions of people worldwide

In light of recent developments, meteorologists believe that this is indeed a "strong" El Niño. According to experts, this threatens the global food supply, including the cultivation of rice – the livelihood of millions of people.

In Ethiopia, for example, El Niño typically leads to a drought in the north of the country, Madeleine Thomson, head of climate impacts and adaptation at the charity Wellcome, told the Guardian.

Chances of destructive hurricanes are high

In addition, already extremely high ocean temperatures double the chances of a particularly active Atlantic hurricane season this summer and fall, NOAA said Thursday.

With hurricane season already well above normal, NOAA has increased the number of expected storms. "This also increases the likelihood of a hurricane landing on the east coast of the United States," said Matthew Rosencrans, senior hurricane forecaster at the NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

The high water temperatures are an important factor in the development of the storm, Rosencrans said. Warmer water is something like the fuel for hurricanes, as the storms suck up the heat energy from the water. As a result, the storm will become wetter and stronger. An El Niño can usually even weaken a hurricane season because the ocean currents and winds in the eastern Pacific Ocean change – making the formation of a tropical storm in the Atlantic less likely.

But that could be different this time. Just a few months ago, meteorologists saw the forecasts for the hurricane season as a showdown between the record-breaking warm seawater, which increases storm activity, and the dampening power of El Niño. "The warm water wins," says hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy of the University of Miami.