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How Is Climate Change Affecting El Niño And La Niña?

Human-caused greenhouse gas emissions mean strong El Niño and La Niña events are occurring more often, according to our new research, which provides important new evidence of the human fingerprint on Earth's climate.

For more than 30 years, climate researchers have puzzled over the link between human-caused climate change and El Niño and La Niña events. Climate scientists have long observed a correlation between climate change impacts on our oceans and atmosphere, and the increase in greenhouse gas emissions from human activity.

Our research examined when this activity may have started to make El Niño and La Niña events more extreme.

Our deep analysis found a relationship between human-caused greenhouse gas activity and changes to El Niño and La Niña.

They help us understand how El Niño and La Niña will change as the world warms in the future. That's how El Niño and La Niña events can so dramatically affect weather patterns around the world. Over the last 50 years or so, strong El Niño and La Niña events have occurred more often. So how might climate change affect the development of El Niño and La Niña?

Decades of observations of climate change show sea surface temperatures are warming. In particular, we can expect more intense and frequent El Niño and La Niña events. We can also expect more frequent swings from a strong El Niño to a strong La Niña the following year. As climate change worsens, we must prepare for many more of these potentially damaging climate events.

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