Myanmar women collect drinking water from the outskirts of the capital, Naypyitaw, Myanmar, in the El Nino-affected summer of 2016.
Myanmar women collect drinking water from the outskirts of the capital, Naypyitaw, Myanmar, in the El Nino-affected summer of 2016. HEIN HTET

'Paris' won't slow rise in droughts

EXTREME El Nino events that can cause massive droughts in Australia are expected to become more frequent for a century after global mean temperature is stabilised at 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

Research published yesterday by an international team shows that if warming is stopped at the ideal 1.5-degree target in the Paris Agreement, the frequency of extreme El Nino events could continue to increase because of more frequent and faster warming in the eastern part of the Pacific near the equator.

Keeping global warming to the Paris aspirational target of 1.5 degrees is unlikely if not impossible, scientists warn. Even at that level, Australia would face more frequent drought-inducing weather.

CSIRO researcher and lead author Dr Guojian Wang said in Nature Climate Change the growing risk of extreme El Nino events would not stabilise as soon as the climate was stabilised.

"Currently the risk of extreme El Nino events is around five events per 100 years,” he said.

"This doubles to approximately 10 events per 100 years by 2050, when our modelled emissions scenario reaches a peak of 1.5 degrees warming.

"After this, as faster warming in the eastern equatorial Pacific persists, the risk ... continues upwards to about 14 events per 100 years by 2150.

"This result is unexpected and shows that future generations will experience greater climate risks associated with extreme El Nino events than seen at 1.5 degrees warming.”



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