The Pacific Ocean is heating up rapidly: that’s the main feature of the phenomenon that climatologists mundanely refer to as ‘El Niño’, an abnormal warming that produces all kinds of effects in the Americas and contributes to warming the entire planet.
Mexico is already in the “warning” stage, which means that ‘El Niño’ is about to become official and, with it, the entire continent will suffer havoc. While some regions of the Americas will have a greater chance of drought, in others there will be more humidity and even more intense cyclonic events.
The Center for Climate Prediction in the United States predicted on June 8 that ‘El Niño’ will be present in the coming weeks and will strengthen throughout the year, until winter 2023 and, therefore, until the beginning of 2024. El Niño’ occurs on average every two to seven years and, according to the US agency, there is an 84% possibility that there will be an ‘El Niño’ of more intense than moderate force.
The other extreme of ‘El Niño’ is the climatic phenomenon whereby the surface of the equatorial Pacific is super-cool. This condition is called ‘La Niña’ and has been present for three consecutive years. Experts feared that, precisely because of the duration of ‘La Niña’, a strong warming event in the Pacific Ocean would follow.
‘El Niño’ officially begins when a temperature rises of 0.5 °C above the average for the period between 1971 and 2000 is detected.
‘El Niño’ in its intense version, which is the most likely to occur in autumn and/or winter, would cause intensely dry conditions in Mexico. Historically, when ‘El Niño’ in its intense stage and becomes present in autumn, there are dry conditions in the northwest, west, center, east and south of the country. The only places that continue to preserve humid conditions are in Chihuahua, Coahuila, Guerrero, and northern Chiapas.
Understanding the impacts of ‘El Niño’. The maps record rainfall anomalies for different seasons when there have been intense ‘El Niño’ episodes, in 1957, 1965, 1972, 1982 and 1997.
If ‘El Niño’ arrives strongly for the second half of the year, not only does the probability of drought in Mexico increase for 2023 and 2024, but it is also expected to have a significant impact on the planet’s temperature. In the worst-case scenario, says the World Meteorological Organization, some of the next five years will be the warmest ever recorded in the planet’s history.