Climate Forecast: More Southwest Droughts and Australian Floods

Global warming will drive La Niña to greater extremes, a new study says—and El Niño too.

People living around the Pacific Ocean, including in parts of Asia, Australia, and western North and South America, should expect wilder climate swings in the 21st century.

Extreme versions of El Niño and La Niña, the sibling Pacific weather patterns that can translate into torrential rains or searing droughts, will likely occur nearly twice as often—approximately once every decade—if greenhouse gases continue increasing on their current trajectory, an international team of scientists has concluded.

"The results are actually very, very convincing, and terrifying in a way because we know the impact can be dramatic," said Wenju Cai, a climate scientist who was the lead author of two recent papers about the research, the second of which was released Monday.

If the predictions prove

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