Updated: Sep 22
Although many might think that when we talk about El Niño we are talking about the raffle for the Christmas lottery, it is nothing other than a natural phenomenon that has returned after years of absence.
Nature never ceases to amaze us, especially when there are natural phenomena that we have never seen before or that we have not heard of for a long time, such as El Niño.
El Niño is a climatic phenomenon that is produced by the warming of the Pacific Ocean, and usually occurs every 3 or 7 years. This large mass of warm water causes the winds to weaken or change direction, releasing heat into the atmosphere and changing weather conditions around the world. There are areas where rainfall increases to the point of causing flooding, while in others it decreases and causes alarming droughts, and the same thing happens with temperatures.
Normally, the winds blow from the east and push warm waters into the western Pacific. However, when an El Niño event occurs, weather patterns around the world change, causing warm waters from the west to reach the east.
For the last few years, El Niño had been absent, but it has recently made the news after the indications of a new episode arose in the tropical Pacific. That's why subject-matter experts, such as scientifics, are closely monitoring these changes, as well as their impact on the planet's climate.
The worst consequences of this phenomenon were recorded between 1997 and 1998, when thousands of people died throughout the world due to the damage it caused; droughts in Australia, forest fires in Indonesia, floods in the United States, extreme tropical storms in the eastern Pacific, etc.
Therefore, the problem that we face currently is that every year we break a new temperature record due to climate change, and this may mean that the effects of El Niño increase and are more damaging than ever.
Although the effects can vary, it could include intense storms, alterations in rainfall patterns, prolonged droughts and flash floods, among others. These extreme weather conditions can have a devastating year for both agriculture and agriculture, food security, the economy and the lives of people living in areas affected by El Niño.
But, what is La Niña? Well, it could be said that it is the opposite phenomenon of El Niño, since it is characterized mainly by colder than normal waters in the central and eastern Pacific. Although both phenomena are different, they are connected in what is known as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle, a climatic pattern that consists of the oscillation in the meteorological parameters of the equatorial Pacific every 3 and 7 years (5 on average).
There is no doubt that El Niño is a reminder of how natural events can directly affect our daily lives. With its return, it is crucial that we continue to monitor and study this phenomenon in order to better understand its patterns and how to properly prepare for its consequences.