Ever since climate change became something that could be ignored no longer, El Nino has been something we have been hearing more and more of. Folks that have no clue what in the blue blazes is an El Nino when it is at home, have been throwing it out in conversations, so much so it has become the thing to pin everything that’s wrong with the world currently on.
What really is an El Nino? At its simplest, El Nino is a complex weather pattern particular to the Pacific Ocean, that is a result of the variations in the ocean temperatures. El Nino also has a sister pattern called La Nina, which is a cold phase of the ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) cycle, while El Nino is the warm phase. These patterns last for periods of around 9 – 12 months on average and occur every two to seven years.
Despite the fact that everything, right from Maggi’s fall from grace to Chennai resembling Cherrapunji is blamed on El Nino, what are all the ills that can rightfully placed at ENSO’s feet?
- In South America, especially Peru and Ecuador, every three years or so, the ‘El Nino effect’ occurs, which is rather disastrous to the fishing economy. Not enough fishes are available, to the detriment of the fishermen and the animals that feed on the fish. Another result is torrential rainfall in the costal areas.
- Similarly, in California, where the havoc caused by the El Nino effect results in the decrease of the number of fish, resulting in collapse of fisheries and the animals that rely on the fish, such as seals, to die of starvation. The climatic conditions also cause the rise of storms and heavy downpour.
- On a positive note, there are fewer hurricanes in the Atlantic during the El Nino years; milder winters in western Canada and NW USA and above average rainfall in the Florida region.
- In India, El Nino is said to have caused the below normal monsoon in Northern and Central India for the past two years. “This is a typical El Nino feature where northwest India and central India will receive less rainfall”, said the head of the Indian Meterological Dept’s Long Range Forecast department.
- In fact, this year the El Nino is supposed to “cause havoc on the world”, according to this cheering information from the New Scientist.
Time to batten down the hatches, I say.