extreme weather

El Niño tries to return, could make 2018 an even warmer year

Global sea surface temperature anomalies, showing warming near the equator in the Pacific Ocean.
Pacific sea surface temperature anomalies, showing increasing temperatures in the eastern equatorial tropical Pacific. Image: Earth.nullschool.net.

In the tropical waters of the equatorial Pacific Ocean, conditions appear to be primed for the development of an El Niño event, with potentially far-reaching consequences.

Why it matters: If an El Niño does develop, even a weak one, it could influence weather patterns around the world — from increasing the odds of above-average winter precipitation in California to favoring drought conditions in Indonesia. It could also provide a natural boost to global average surface temperatures, nudging 2018 and possibly 2019 further up the ladder of the hottest years on record.

Ryan Zinke says human role in climate change is unknown

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke discusses wildfires with press at the White House.
Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

During an appearance on Fox Business on Thursday morning, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke broke sharply with the scientific consensus regarding mankind's role in climate change.

Why it matters: Zinke oversees the agency that manages U.S. public lands, many of which are currently burning due to hotter, drier weather that scientists say is part of long-term climate change. How he views climate science findings will help inform his approach to managing our forests and national parks.