- The 2015-16 El Nino — one of the largest on record — caused the largest annual increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration seen in at least 2,000 years, a NASA study has found.
- Analysing the first 28 months of data from NASA Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite, researchers concluded that the impacts of El Nino-related heat and drought occurring in tropical regions of South America, Africa and Indonesia were responsible for the record spike in global carbon dioxide.
- El Nino refers to a band of warm ocean water that develops in the Pacific Ocean and causes global changes of both temperatures and rainfall.
- Scientists suspected the 2015-16 El Nino — one of the largest on record — was responsible, but exactly how has been a subject of ongoing research.
- These three tropical regions released 2.5 gigatonnes more carbon into the atmosphere than they did in 2011.
- Extra carbon dioxide explains the difference in atmospheric carbon dioxide growth rates between 2011 and the peak years of 2015-16.