Extreme versions of the El Nino weather phenomenon -- which can bring torrential rains and flooding to one part of the world and catastrophic drought and fires to another -- could double in frequency in the next 100 years because of global warming, a study claims.
Scientists have detected a possible link between increasing global temperatures and extreme versions of El Nino, when rainfall patterns across the Pacific shift dramatically.
They believe that the frequency of extreme conditions could double, increasing their occurrence from about once every 20 years to once every 10 years. The last extreme El Nino occurred in 1997-1998 and killed as many as 23,000 people.
El Nino, which means "the boy", or "Christ child" because it was first noticed by Peruvian fishermen at Christmas, causes rainfall in the Eastern equatorial Pacific and intense drought in the Western equatorial regions of the Pacific, including Australia. (© Independent News Service)