Climate scientists expect above-normal temperatures over the next three months, despite the absence of an El Nino, a natural phenomenon that tends to boost global temperatures.
In past years, record heat has occurred in El Nino years. But that is changing according to the global seasonal climate update from the World Meteorological Organization. The WMO said that April 2020, a non-El Nino period, is tied as the warmest month on record with April 2016, when there was a strong El Nino, as well as climate change.
WMO spokeswoman Claire Nullis said all the years subsequent to 2016 have been very warm without El Nino, including 2019, which was the second warmest year on record. She notes the trend has continues into this year.
“Global temperatures in January, February and March were also the warmest or second warmest year on record, according to international data bases," Nullis said. "So, we are seeing now that the human influence on our climate is actually stronger. It is more powerful than natural sources of nature, such as El Nino.”
Heat waves increasing
The WMO said most extreme weather events are happening against a backdrop of climate change. It said heat waves are increasing due to climate change, and that is having a major impact on extreme events such as tropical cyclones and heavy rainfall. East Africa, for example, is experiencing record rainfall and flooding.
Nullis told VOA that preparing for and managing the impact of extreme weather events is becoming more difficult due to COVID-19. She explains that nations are not paying enough attention to early warning systems because of the pandemic.
“We really do need strong multi-hazard early warning systems against hurricanes, against heat waves, because these things are all interlinked," Nullis said. "They have a cascading effect, and COVID now is one of those hazards.”
WMO scientists said the COVID-19 pandemic more than ever before increases the need for reliable weather forecasts and longer-term climate outlooks. They said temperatures and precipitation have a major impact on key economic and public health systems, noting that many have been brought to the brink of collapse by the pandemic.