Extreme temperatures in Southeast Asia caused by El Niño and worsened by global warming

In April 2016, southeast Asia experienced surface air temperatures (SATs) that surpassed national records, exacerbated energy consumption, disrupted agriculture and caused severe human discomfort. Here we show using observations and an ensemble of global warming simulations the combined impact of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon and long-term warming on regional SAT extremes. We find a robust relationship between ENSO and southeast Asian SATs wherein virtually all April extremes occur during El Niño years. We then quantify the relative contributions of long-term warming and the 2015–16 El Niño to the extreme April 2016 SATs.

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