El Niño will blow in a turbulent 2016

Global markets next year could take a battering from the El Niño weather phenomenon.


Thailand is already rationing wter

This winter could be colder and snowier than usual it's down to this year's El Nio weather phenomenon, which forecasters expect to be the strongest since 1950, says Sarah Knapton in The Daily Telegraph.

El Nio is a climate pattern linked to major events such as monsoons in India, heavy rain and storms in North America and Europe, and floods in Australia. Since detailed records began in the early 1950s, El Nio has struck every 15 to 20 years, with the last "really powerful one" during the winter of 1997-1998, says Jeremy Plester in The Times.

Another is now overdue. If it is a big one, 2016 is likely to prove a "turbulent year" for global finance, particularly in the insurance and commodities markets, with the risks of heat, typhoons, floods and crop failures increasing globally. In 1997 the cost to the global economy was put at around half a trillion dollars.

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Some countries have already been hit, says The Economist. Thailand is rationing water. Peru is in a state of emergencybecause of mudslides. The Panana Canal's water levels areso low that traffic is restricted. The global impact could be"devastating due to disruption to trade and harvests". This inturn could fuel conflict; Columbia University's Earth Institutefound that El Nio doubles the risk of civil wars in 90 tropicalcountries.

It's not all bad, says Plester. It should inhibit hurricane activityin the North Atlantic, for example. And it may bring respite toCalifornia, which has seen a record-breaking four-year drought,says Tom Bawden in The Independent. But the big picture isn'tgood.

El Nio could push the average global temperature to athird consecutive record in 2016, and it may not stop there. AsProfessor Scaife of the Met Office Hadley Centre says: "thesenatural shifts... have happened for millennia, but their effect onthe temperature is becoming even more profound because ofthe rising volume of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere".

Emily Hohler

Emily has extensive experience in the world of journalism. She has worked on MoneyWeek for more than 20 years as a former assistant editor and writer. Emily has previously worked on titles including The Times as a Deputy Features Editor, Commissioning Editor at The Independent Sunday Review, The Daily Telegraph, and she spent three years at women's lifestyle magazine Marie Claire as a features writer for three years, early on in her career. 

On MoneyWeek, Emily’s coverage includes Brexit and global markets such as Russia and China. Aside from her writing, Emily is a Nutritional Therapist and she runs her own business called Root Branch Nutrition in Oxfordshire, where she offers consultations and workshops on nutrition and health.