PHOTOS: Five Global Warming "Tipping Points"

PHOTOS: Five Global Warming
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4. El Niño Becomes Permanent

If El Niño--a periodic disruption of the ocean and atmosphere in the tropical Pacific--becomes the average state of the region's climate as global warming progresses, widespread shifts in precipitation patterns (above, homes slide into the sea during El Niño storms in Pacifica, California) will ensue, said a majority of scientists who responded to a climate survey released on March 16, 2009.

Such changes could bring increased drought to Southeast Asia and the Amazon Basin, experts say.

Likewise, the South American coast would likely be heavily slammed with increased floods and changes in the marine food web, which could hurt many fisheries, the study said.

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