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El Niño challenge

Manila Standard

The El Niño phenomenon, the climate pattern that refers to the unusual warming of surface waters in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, is in effect in the Philippines.

PAGASA, or the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration, which provides weather forecasts and tropical cyclone warnings, flood bulletins and advisories, hydrological, and climatological farm forecasts, has said El Niño may take place until May and transition to El Niño Southern Oscillation-neutral until June.

North of Manila, the public has been advised to conserve water since the dry spell already affecting several provinces of the Cordillera Administrative Region is expected to last until April.

The region’s El Niño Task Force said Abra, Ifugao, and Mountain Province are already in a dry spell while Benguet, Kalinga and Apayao are expected to experience drought later this month.

A dry spell means below-normal rainfall conditions for three consecutive months while drought is characterized by a rainfall condition below normal for five consecutive months or the reduction in the rainfall is about 41 to 80 percent compared to the normal rainfall data of a particular month.

Weather authorities noted while parts of the region are in a drought condition, the high elevation of the region adds to the effects of the northeast monsoon, which gives a colder temperature in several towns and provinces.

Baguio City recorded the lowest temperature of 14.6 degrees Celsius around 5 a.m. on Jan. 11.

Because of the dry spell, the El Niño Task Force has advised the public as well as the farmers to conserve and reuse water.

The task force also suggested several measures to address the situation and these include the installation of rainwater harvester.

The WMO’s new secretary-general Celeste Saulo warned El Nino, which emerged mid-2023, is likely to turn up the heat even further in 2024.

The naturally-occurring climate pattern, typically associated with increased heat worldwide, usually increases global temperatures in the year after it develops.

The 2015 Paris climate accords aimed to limit global warming to well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels — and 1.5C if possible.

The Geneva-based World meteorological Organization said the 2023 annual average global temperature was 1.45 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels (1850-1900) — though one of the six datasets it relies on, the non-profit research organization Berkeley Earth, placed the figure as high as 1.54C.

The WMO’s new secretary-general Celeste Saulo warned that El Nino, which emerged mid-2023, is likely to turn up the heat even further in 2024.

The Washington, DC-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the 2023 global surface temperature was 1.18C above the 20th-century average, and was hotter than the next warmest year, 2016, by a record-setting margin of 0.15C.

Weather experts now say climate change is “the biggest challenge that humanity faces.”

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