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El Nino - Unfortunately not the latest Brazilian Superstar to play for Real Madrid

The return of the much-discussed weather cycle, El Nino, has recently been confirmed by US meteorologists, with the potential to usher in record-breaking global temperatures. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has announced this advent after three years of being under the cooler La Nina trend, which normally brings a modest decrease in world temperatures. Forecasts indicate that these conditions would increasingly worsen as we enter the winter season.

El Nino, a word commonly used to indicate sea surface temperature rising, occurs every few years, primarily in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean around the equator. Its effects are most noticeable in the tropical eastern Pacific, where temperatures are higher than normal. The phenomena generally occurs every two to seven years, and meteorologists have been closely tracking its progress over the last few months.

This region of the Pacific, where El Nino develops, has a significant influence on global weather patterns, resulting in a variety of extreme weather occurrences in various parts of the world. It has traditionally been connected with greater rainfall in areas like South America, the southern United States, the Horn of Africa, and Central Asia. On the other hand, it has the potential to cause catastrophic droughts in Australia, Indonesia, areas of southern Asia, Central America, and northern South America. Furthermore, El Nino's warm waters can fuel hurricanes in the Pacific while potentially impeding hurricane formation in the Atlantic.

Looking on, experts predict that the global average temperature will exceed a critical threshold, exceeding 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels in 2024, perhaps setting the way for the hottest year on record. Previous, similar, events in 2015 and 2016 were linked to droughts, floods, and coral bleaching in various parts of the world. 2016 went down in history as the hottest year ever recorded, thanks to an El Nino phenomenon.

As we observe the progression of El Niño's impact, there has been a noticeable warming trend in monthly average sea surface temperatures since February, particularly pronounced in the Atlantic region near Ireland. This suggests that the emerging El Niño event may exert its influence on weather patterns in this area as well.

So how is Ireland effected:

Rainfall and Agricultural Production: El Nino's ability to disrupt weather patterns can wreak havoc on Ireland's accustomed rainfall distribution. While some regions may experience an uptick in rainfall, benefiting certain crops and livestock, others may face drought conditions, leading to compromised crop yields and limited livestock feed. As a consequence, Ireland's agricultural production could experience fluctuations, potentially resulting in shortages or price changes for locally produced food items.

Vegetable and Fruit Imports: Ireland heavily relies on imports for fresh vegetables and fruits to meet domestic demand. We just need to look at the record temperatures in central Spain and Rhodes to see how imports such as tomatoes, olives, citrus fruits etc could be massively hampered as the season goes on

Meat and Dairy Imports: Reading on from the fruit and veg, animals need to eat too. Drought and floods will very likely hamper grain harvests, massively affecting livestock feed availability and production. Consequently, Ireland's imports of these products could face reductions in quantities and increases in prices.

Seafood Imports: El Nino's influence on marine ecosystems and fish populations across the globe may impact the availability of certain seafood items in international markets, including those imported to Ireland. Keep an eye out jellyfish that you’d usually associate with Spanish and Portuguese climates

Price Volatility: The impact of El Nino on global weather patterns can create market price volatility for various food items. With production levels and availability in flux, prices in the international market may fluctuate, subsequently affecting the cost of imported food products in Ireland.

Supply Chain Disruptions: Severe weather events associated with El Nino, such as storms and floods, can potentially disrupt the transportation and logistics of food imports. Infrastructure damage or delays could result in untimely arrivals of food shipments in Ireland. As someone who deals day to day with shipping lanes, most would be surprised at the high volume of ferry delays and cancellations. 1 ship could be carrying 100s of tonnes of cargo which could effect every corner of the country.

Given Ireland's reliance on food imports, any disruptions or variations in global food supply caused by El Nino can have serious consequences for the country's food security and market pricing. To ensure a stable and resilient food supply, Ireland must closely monitor the global food situation, diversify its import sources, and develop appropriate contingency plans. As the weather cycle unfolds, proactive measures and adaptability will be key to navigating the potential impacts on Ireland's food and agricultural sectors.

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