NASA and other agencies are finding indications that an intense El Niño event may be heading to the west coasts of North and South America. NASA JPL climate scientist Bill Patzert stated, “It’s no sure bet that we will have a strong El Niño, but the signal is getting stronger. What happens in August through October should make or break this event.” While this may sound dandy for drought-stricken areas, the event could bring more hazards than respite.
On the above map, the red areas indicate sea levels that have risen, which means warming of that region’s waters. Comparisons to data collected around this time of year in 1997 show less intense sea levels and 2015 is on track to becoming the hottest year yet, all of which indicates the potential for quite a season. There is still time for conditions to shift, since El Niño peaks between December and April.
If severe conditions do arise, the west coast could be in for torrential rains, flooding, spread of diseases, and resulting social impacts. An article documenting the 1997 El Niño event paints quite a picture. Now is most certainly the time to band together and change our carbon footprints, if we want to see stability in future years.