A developing El Nio, an ocean-atmosphere phenomenon that modifies rainfall patterns and temperature swings, could reduce agricultural output in the United States.
Why it matters: Any drop in agricultural output could increase food prices and worsen the nation’s overall food insecurity.
The most recent: Predictions indicate that the upcoming El Nio will likely begin between this summer and this fall, adding to the effects of human-caused climate change to usher in significant changes to weather patterns.
Typically the climate cycle results in a wetter, cooler southeastern U.S., while regions like the Central Plains could be drier and possibly warmer, according to Virginia Tech professor Zachary Easton, who researches agricultural ecosystems, food production and climate change.
He notes that when you add naturally occurring events like El Niño to a warming climate, there are “going to be consequences in your production system,” citing how past El Niño events drove “big disruptions” in American crop production.
What they’re saying: Agricultural economist Jennifer Ifft tells Axios that if El Niño ends up intensifying the prolonged drought in the Central and Southern Plains, the results would be “economically devastating.”