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Future impacts of El Niño, La Niña likely to intensify, increasing wildfire, drought risk

When an El Niño or its opposite, La Niña, forms in the future, it's likely to cause more intense impacts over many land regions -- amplifying changes to temperature, precipitation and wildfire risk. Researchers have found, for example, that the increased wildfire danger in the Southwest United States associated with La Niña events would become more acute. Conversely, cooler and wetter weather in the same region, when associated with El Niño events, would likely become even cooler and even wetter in the future, enhancing flood risks. El Niño events are characterized by warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. La Niña events, on the other hand, are defined by cooler-than-average waters in the same region. The phenomena can influence weather patterns globally, with far-reaching consequences, including changes to crop yields, fire risk and the heating and cooling demands of homes, workplaces and other buildings.

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