Climate Chaos: How Human-Induced Climate Change is Disrupting Our Climate Patterns

The Unpredictable El Niño

 El Niño and La Niña called the El Niño southern oscillation (ENSO), are climate patterns. They occur over the Pacific due to ocean-atmosphere coupling and influence weather patterns across the globe. The ENSO system consists of 3 phases: neutral, La Niña and El Niño. A phase typically lasts 9–12 months but can also prolong for years. These events usually occur every 3–5 years, with El Niño occurring more frequently than La Niña.

ENSO weather impacts

Over the years, this system has severely impacted the weather patterns across the globe. A La Niña phase which started in 2020 till recently along with human-induced climate change, was responsible for the prolonged drought experienced by the countries in the Horn of Africa. This same La Niña was partly responsible for the floods that wreaked havoc in Pakistan. El Niño, the warmer phase of ENSO, has also caused multiple weather calamities over the years. In the past, it has caused northern parts of the US and Canada to be drier than usual. It is expected that in this El Niño phase, Canada could experience more intense weather patterns. Some regions could experience more precipitation, whereas others could experience severe drought.

ENSO and India

The upcoming El Niño is predicted to bring extreme drought and heatwaves across India and other South and Southeast Asian countries. However, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted a normal monsoon season in parts of south, east, northeast and Jammu & Kashmir. But it is still too soon to predict how El Niño, which has emerged and is forecasted to mature this winter, will affect the monsoons. The onset of southwest monsoons has already been further delayed by several days. The Indian monsoons, which kick start along the coast of Kerala, had already missed its start date of the 4th of June and arrived a week later on the 8th — the longest delay in 4 years.  

The monsoons are important to the socioeconomic status of more than half of the population as the onset of the monsoon decides the production of multiple food crops such as rice, wheat, sugarcane maize, etc. Sufficient rain means good yield, leading to favourable economic conditions that help control food inflation and reduce export restrictions. During the last 15 El Niño occurrences, India experienced normal or more than average rainfall in only six instances. Since 2000, there have been 4 droughts during an El Niño. These years also saw a decline in kharif output followed by inflation. It has also been shown that a La Niña followed by an El Niño (as is the current case) is a worst-case scenario and tends to produce a monsoon deficit.

 It is also worth mentioning that ENSO is not the sole factor influencing Indian monsoons. Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), Atlantic sea surface temperature (SST) variability, North Atlantic Oscillation (NOA), and Pacific Decadal Oscillations (PDO), along with local factors such as dust clouds and irrigation patterns, also influence Indian weather patterns. Moreover, the changing climate due to anthropogenic factors also plays into the rise of heatwaves, floods and droughts. A recent study also suggests that the increase in heat waves hinders India’s progress towards SDGs.

The past nine years have been stated to be the warmest ever. The upcoming warm phase of the ENSO cycle could further increase temperatures leading to new highs. The only solution to the unexpected tomorrow is to be prepared and strive more to reduce our global emissions.


This article is authored by Ronniya who is a recent Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science graduate from Lund University. She enjoys reading, cooking and identifying solutions to reduce her carbon footprint. She previously volunteered as a board member at a farmers’ organisation in south Sweden along with being a board member for a student organisation on sustainable lifestyle. She has also worked in the e-waste recycling sector in India.

Published by ecoHQ

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