An expected El Nino climate phenomenon has arrived, raising fears of extreme weather and temperature records, scientists at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday.
This developed as President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. directed all government agencies to strictly implement water conservation measures In light of the possible El Niño long dry spell.
Marked by warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean near the equator, the weather pattern last occurred in 2018-19 and takes place every 2-7 years on average.
“Depending on its strength, El Nino can cause a range of impacts, such as increasing the risk of heavy rainfall and droughts in certain locations around the world,” said NOAA climate scientist Michelle L’Heureux.
“Climate change can exacerbate or mitigate certain impacts related to El Nino. For example, El Nino could lead to new records for temperatures, particularly in areas that already experience above-average temperatures during El Nino,” she added.
In Memorandum Circular No. 22, dated June 7, 2023, and signed by Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, President Marcos ordered the Water Resource Management Office (WRMO) and its network of agencies to execute water conservation measures to avert a water crisis in the next several months.
Mr. Marcos also directed all agencies, including government-owned or -controlled corporations and state universities and colleges, to “identify and implement specific quantifiable and attainable water conservation measures that will result in ten percent water volume reduction of their respective first quarter (January to March 2023) water consumption.”
The President also instructed the Local Water Utilities Administration, National Water Resources Board, and the Metropolitan Water and Sewerage System to do the same.
Private water service providers (WSPs) are enjoined to submit to the WRMO a monthly supply-demand projection to determine a possible deficit in water supply in the near future.
“National government-run WSPs are hereby directed, and local government-run WSPs are hereby encouraged, to immediately complete their projects to reduce non-revenue water and upgrade their distribution pipes,” the President said.
“Local government units are encouraged to process the requests of WSPs for waterworks within a reasonable period of time,” he added in the memorandum.
President Marcos also said the WRMO “shall identify strategies towards water conservation measures and provide quarterly updates to the Office of the President, through the Office of the Executive Secretary, on the progress thereof.”
Australia this week warned El Nino would deliver warmer, drier days to a country vulnerable to fierce bushfires, while Japan said a developing El Nino was partly responsible for its warmest spring on record.
Most of the warmest years on record have occurred during El Ninos, and scientists are concerned that this summer and next could see record temperatures on land and in the sea.
Mariana Paoli of relief agency Christian Aid said: “Poor people are already being pushed to the brink through droughts, floods, and storms caused by the burning of fossil fuels and now they will be facing the supercharged temperatures of the El Nino effect.
“These people are the worst affected by climate change but have done the least to cause it.”
World warming at record 0.2 degrees Celsius per decade, scientists warn.
The phenomenon’s influence on the United States is weak during summer but more pronounced starting from late fall through spring, NOAA said in its statement.
By winter, it is estimated there is an 84 percent chance of a “greater than moderate” El Nino developing, and a 56 percent chance of a strong El Nino.
This in turn would typically cause wetter than average conditions in some parts of the country, from southern California to the Gulf Coast, but drier than average conditions in the Pacific Northwest and Ohio Valley.
It also raises chances for warmer-than-average temperatures in northern parts of the country.
Developing El Nino conditions were already factored into NOAA’s hurricane predictions last month.
It has a suppressive effect on hurricane activity in the Atlantic, but typically boosts hurricane activity in the central and eastern Pacific.
El Nino, meaning “Little Boy” in Spanish, is the warm phase of the El Nino–Southern Oscillation.
La Nina, meaning “Little Girl,” is its colder counterpart, where sea surface temperatures in the eastern and central Pacific Ocean near the equator are lower than normal.