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Climate Experts Concerned Over Rising Ocean Temperatures

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The evidence of climate change becomes difficult to ignore when recent data reveals that ocean water temperatures have reached an unprecedented high. This record-breaking milestone was reached in March 2023, coinciding with the expected departure of the current La Niña phase and the impending arrival of an El Niño phase.

The concerning aspect of this data is that the record high sea surface temperatures occurred during a La Niña phase, which typically leads to lower readings. The Climate Prediction Center (CPC), a division of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), recently declared the end of the La Niña phase.

Additionally, the CPC predicts neutral conditions for the spring and early summer, with the El Niño phase likely to establish itself by late summer or early fall.

The advent of the El Niño pattern brings with it a range of adverse climate impacts, including more powerful typhoons, extreme heatwaves, increased wildfire risks, and threats to fragile coral reefs. This is because the transition to an El Niño phase usually entails higher temperatures worldwide, which has implications for global weather patterns.

Increased Precipitation for the West Coast

Earlier in 2023, California experienced substantial rainfall and snowfall, which brought some relief to the ongoing drought in the state. However, forecasters warn that as the transition to an El Niño pattern commences, the precipitation could intensify even further.

The Sierra Nevada mountains witnessed historically high levels of snowpack, resulting in widespread flooding as rising temperatures caused rapid snowmelt. With the onset of El Niño, California is likely to experience even more rainfall, heightening the risks of landslides, mudslides, flooding, and coastal erosion.

This forecast aligns with the historical trend of La Niña causing droughts and El Niño eradicating them. Unfortunately, it is challenging to predict which areas will be affected by drought and which ones will receive above-average levels of moisture during these transitions.

For instance, while California benefited from a series of storms last winter, the Desert Southwest continues to grapple with drought conditions. Plummeting water levels in the Colorado River have triggered a severe water crisis in this region. The arrival of El Niño could provide significant relief for the Southwest, akin to what California experienced this winter.


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