Weather phenomenon plus global warming is recipe for the hottest year on record, says climate scientist
By Sophie Yeo
This year could be the hottest ever, due to the high possibility of an El NiÃ±o weather phenomenon.
Piers Forster, a professor of climate change at Leeds University, told RTCC that an El NiÃ±o combined with the effects of global warming, could make 2014 the hottest year on record.
âThe prediction that 2014 will be the hottest year on record is a rough estimate but based on sound physics and the latest predictions for the growing El NiÃ±o during the remainder of the year,â said Forster.
âOverall my best estimate of the 2014 annual global surface temperature anomaly is 0.626 +/- 0.05 C above the 1961-1990 average, making it likely to be the hottest year on record after the 0.547 C anomaly in 2010.â
TheÂ European Centre for Medium-range Weather ForecastsÂ predicts that there is a 90% chance of an El NiÃ±o hitting this year. During an El NiÃ±o, the ocean releases its energy into the air, warming surface temperatures, having a knock-on effect on weather patterns around the globe, including weaker monsoons in India and more hurricanes over the Pacific.
El NiÃ±o events can have a damaging effects on developing countries in particular, with a potentially devastating impact on agriculture. The 1997 El NiÃ±o, the strongest ever, cost around US$ 35-45 billion in damage and caused around 23,000 deaths worldwide.
Forecasts by NOAA show that the temperature of the El NiÃ±o region of the central Pacific is projected to increase by around 0.4 to 1.5C by late summer. Historic data suggests that, globally, temperatures increase byÂ 0.08 C per degree of warming in this region, said Forster.
This, combined with background warming of around 0.01C a month from greenhouse gases, means there is a high chance that 2014 could be the hottest on record, he said.
Ed Hawkins, a climate scientist at Reading University, supported his findings. Both scientists contributed to the UN’s climate science report, the IPCC.
“I think thereâs a reasonable chance it could be the warmest year on record given the El NiÃ±o forecasts,” he told RTCC, adding that there would be localised impacts as well as global warming.
“We might expect more hurricanes in the Pacific but less hurricanes in the Atlantic. We might expect rainfall changes over Africa and South America in particular.”