Currently — October 7th, 2022
What you need to know, currently.
Forecasters are expecting La Niña to last through February of 2023, the only time the phenomenon has spanned three winters in the last century, according to the World Meteorological Organization.
“It is exceptional to have three consecutive years with a La Niña event. Its cooling influence is temporarily slowing the rise in global temperatures – but it will not halt or reverse the long-term warming trend,” WMO Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalas said in a press release.
La Niña is the complement to El Niño, opposing weather patterns in the Pacific Ocean — formed through a slight shifting of trade winds and a confluence of air pressure and ocean temperature — with the power to affect climate patterns around the world.
In a La Niña year, the jet stream tends to shift to the north, bringing warm, dry winters to the southern United States and cool, wet (or wetter) weather to the Pacific Northwest. In an El Niño year, the jet stream shifts south, reversing the pattern.
A new study published in Geophysical Research Letters suggests that this protracted La Niña pattern has been caused by climate change. Researchers found that even as global temperatures have risen, the sea surface in the southern Pacific has cooled. Scientists aren’t entirely sure why that’s happening — but when those cooler waters off the coast of South America meet shifting trade winds, they result in the La Niña conditions that have helped extend the prolonged drought in the Western United States.
"At some point, we expect anthropogenic, or human-caused, influences to reverse these trends and give El Niño the upper hand.” lead author, Robert Jnglin Wills, a research scientist in atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington said in a statement. “The climate models are still getting reasonable answers for the average warming, but there’s something about the regional variation, the spatial pattern of warming in the tropical oceans, that is off."
What you can do, currently.
- Start funding climate solutions by joining our partner, Wren. More than 10,000 Wren members fund projects that plant trees, protect rainforest, and otherwise fight the climate crisis every month. Sign-up today and they’ll plant 10 trees in your name for free.