May of 2015 was the wettest on record in southwest Colorado. Resident Jeff Pope wonders . . .

Pope: “Where did this weather pattern come from?”

El Nino map

Paul Roundy of the University at Albany in New York, says it was caused by a climate event known as El Niño.

El Niño events are triggered, at least in part, when a massive pool of warm water accumulates in the Pacific Ocean off the shores of Peru. The impacts are felt around the world, including warmer, wetter weather and more storms. As a general rule, the stronger the El Niño, the more extreme the weather.

To better predict future El Niño, scientists are studying the potential impact of climate change, since the world’s oceans are getting warmer.

Roundy: “The question is whether that increase in warm water would then impact the frequency and intensity of individual El Niño events. There’s a lot of debate in the climate community as to the impact of climate change on the behavior of El Niño.”

The jury is still out on the impact of the current El Niño. But, globally El Niño years tend to be warmer than average. And with 2015 more than half over, it looks like it will be the warmest year in recorded history.

This segment of Climate Connections is produced in partnership with iSee Change.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media and iSeeChange/Tom Yoder (KSJD).
Photo: (video screenshot).

More Resources
NOAA El Nino Portal
What A Strengthening El Niño Means For Colorado
El Niño Brings Wet Summer to Plains; Western Drought Continues
El Niño Still Strengthening, Likely Into Spring 2016, NOAA Says
Pacific May Be Primed For Powerful El Niño