A new study led by a scientist from the University of Hawai’i has found that multiyear La Niña events have become more common over the past century. La Niña is a recurring climate pattern that affects weather and ocean conditions in the tropical Pacific. The study revealed that five out of six La Niña events since 1998 have lasted for more than one year, including a triple-year event. This clustering of multiyear La Niña events is unusual, as there have only been ten such events since 1920. The researchers examined 20 La Niña events from 1920 to 2022 and discovered that these events are fueled by warming in the western Pacific Ocean and steep gradients in sea surface temperature. They also found that multiyear La Niña events have a rapid onset rate, which predicts their intensity and climate impacts. Computer simulations of climate supported these findings. The study highlights the factors that contribute to the escalation of extreme La Niña events in a warming world and suggests that more of these events will have adverse impacts on communities worldwide if the western Pacific continues to warm compared to the central Pacific. Understanding these factors can help in better preparing for future extreme La Niña events.
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