Residents of the Kiritimati or Christmas Island coral atoll in the northern Line Islands, Republic of Kiribati, build a seawall with blocks of reef to protect themselves against rising sea levels due to global warming. Pacific islands produce little pollution, but are suffering from the backlash of global warming.
Image: SPC / AFP

An El Niño event that could disrupt global weather is likely by the end of what has already been a hot year, the UN said Monday.

The World Meteorological Organisation forecast "a 70 percent chance of an El Niño developing by the end of this year," a WMO statement said.

El Niño is triggered by periodic warming in the eastern Pacific Ocean which can trigger drought in some regions, heavy rain in others.

"WMO does not expect the anticipated El Niño to be as powerful as the 2015-2016 event, but it will still have considerable impacts," the statement said.

The organisation sees increased odds of higher surface temperatures in most of Asia-Pacific, Europe, North America, Africa and along much of South America's coastline.

Interior parts of South America, Greenland, many south Pacific islands and some in the Caribbean were identified as possible exceptions.

WMO secretary-general Petteri Taalas noted that 2018 "is on track to be one of the warmest on record", after especially high temperatures in July and August across several parts of the world.