El Niño has started in the Pacific Ocean.
This is where the ocean surface warms above average temperatures, which sees the rest of the world get hotter.
Scientists predicted that an El Niño would be returning this year after recent years being dominated by La Niña, which is its cooler equivalent, and this has helped somewhat control temperatures.
However, the emergence of this new natural weather event is expected to bring record heat in 2024, with researchers stating that combined with human-induced climate change, this could see temperatures peak the 1.5°C target of the Paris Agreement.
The previous hottest year on record is 2016 – the last time an El Niño took place.
Michelle L’Heureux, a scientist at the US National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, said: “El Niño conditions are present. This is a very weak signal. But we believe that we’re starting to see these conditions and that they will continue to intensify. Our weekly value is 0.8°C this past week.”
This is even higher than the 0.5°C increase in ocean temperatures that American scientists use to gauge whether the weather event is in play or not.
Miss L’Heureux continued: “We’re actually likely to see global mean temperatures that might become more of a regular thing in five to ten years’ time, so it does give us that sort of portal on the future. And I think that’s why it’s alarming to some people because these are our new thresholds and El Niño is providing an accelerant on that.”
Adam Scaife from the UK Met Office added: “A new record for global temperature next year is definitely plausible. It depends how big the El Niño turns out to be – a big El Niño at the end of this year gives a high chance that we will have a new record, global temperature in 2024.”