The El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the dominant and most consequential climate variation on the planet.
Answering the question of how ENSO may change under greenhouse warming has been plagued for decades by a persistent lack of inter-model agreement on the response of the associated sea surface temperature variability.
This paper by Cai et al. shows for the first time strong inter-model consensus over sea surface temperature variability of a type of El Niño, eastern Pacific El Niño that is strong in both strength and impact, despite differences in the details of the simulated El Niño across models.
The result means that we can expect more occurrences of extreme weather associated with eastern Pacific El Niño events (the strongest and most destructive of the two types of El Niño events), which will have pronounced implications for the twenty-first century climate, extreme weather and ecosystems.
- Paper: Wenju, C. et al. Increased variability of eastern Pacific El Niño under greenhouse warming. Nature 564, 201–206 (2018).
- News & Views: Yoo-Guen Ham. El Niño events will intensify under global warming. Nature. December 12, 2018.