Craig Brown
April 6, 2008

CLIMATOLOGISTS may insist the world is getting warmer and that climate change is here to stay.

But the meteorological phenomenon called La Niña, in which the central and eastern Pacific Ocean is getting cooler, means global temperatures will drop slightly this year.

La Niña’s influence on the world means average global temperatures have not risen since 1998, prompting some to question climate change theory.

The phenomenon is sister to the better known El Niño, or the Little Boy, which appears when too little cold water rises to the ocean’s surface, causing the planet’s temperature to rise and bringing major disruption to weather systems.

La Niña has caused floods in Mozambique, and freezing temperatures in China.

David Parker, research scientist at the Met Office’s Hadley Centre, which studies climate change and variation, said La Niña was part of the natural cycle of the world’s seas.

“It happens of its own accord, and eventually, when it finishes, the effect wears off and the world’s temperature will rise again,” he said.

“While it is in effect, the world temperature will cool by a quarter of a degree, which isn’t a lot, given that we’ve had a half to three-quarters of a degree warming already, but it’s quite a chunk relative to the global warming we’ve had so far.”

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