The study examined four possible scenarios for future carbon emissions, and found increased risk of El Niño events in all four.
This means El Niño events and associated climate extremes are now more likely “regardless of any significant mitigation actions” to reduce emissions, the researchers warn.
“This study shows that those changes could happen after the next two decades.”
When looking at changes in El Niño rainfall patterns, the best estimate of the time of emergence of changes converges on 2040 in all of the four emissions scenarios considered.
Co-author Professor Mat Collins, from the University of Exeter and part of the Global Systems Institute, added that “what surprised us is that changes emerge regardless of the scenario we look at.”