El Nino weather: Worries grow over humanitarian impact
The strongest El Nino weather on record is likely to increase the threat of hunger and disease for millions of people in 2016, aid agencies say. The weather will exacerbate droughts in some areas, while increasing flooding in others. Some of the worst impacts are likely in Africa with food shortages expected to peak in February.
Regions including the Caribbean, Central and South America will also be hit in the next six months. This periodic weather event, which tends to drive up global temperatures and disturb weather patterns, has helped push 2015 into the record books as the world's warmest year.
"By some measures this has already been the strongest El Nino on record. It depends on exactly how you measure it," said Dr Nick Klingaman from the University of Reading.
"In a lot of tropical countries we are seeing big reductions in rainfall of the order of 20-30%. Indonesia has experienced a bad drought; the Indian monsoon was about 15% below normal; and the forecasts for Brazil and Australia are for reduced monsoons."
As both droughts and floods continue, the scale of the potential impacts is worrying aid agencies. Around 31 million people are said to be facing food insecurity across Africa, a significant increase over the last year.
El Nino is a naturally occurring weather episode that sees the warm waters of the central Pacific expand eastwards towards North and South America.