Understanding the El Niño Phenomenon

Understanding the El Niño Phenomenon

There was a time when all you could see in the news was “El Niño this” and “El Niño that” but most of the time, people had no clue what it was. In fact, all they knew was that El Niño was scary and it would ruin their lives.

What is El Niño?

El Niño is characterized by markedly warmer water in the Pacific Ocean just off the Coast of South America. Now it shouldn’t be too worrisome since water temperature changes all the time but what El Niño does is it actually changes the weather patterns not just in the US but in other areas of the world as well.

Who Recognized El Niño?

It wasn’t some big-time, hot-shot research team that found out about El Niño first. Actually, it was recognized by fishermen just going about their job off the South American Coast. After all, who better to notice the chances in the ocean than people who spend their daily lives beside it? These days however, El Niño is tracked by climate experts with the use of satellite data and ocean buoys.

What is with the Name?

Now some of you might wonder what “El Niño” means and why that name was chosen. El Niño is the Spanish term for “Christ Child” or “The Little Boy” but before you start blaming the Spanish or little boys for the phenomenon, the name was actually given to the phenomenon since it had a propensity to show up around Christmas time. It is also good to note that El Niño actually has a cool sister that goes by the name of “La Niña” which is “The Little Girl” in Spanish.

What Happens when El Niño Starts?

When El Niño kicks in, trade winds become more relaxed in the western and central pacific. The surface water temperature by South American shores rises since there is less cold water up-swelling from below the water to cool the surface. This works to cut off the supply of nutrients in the water which affects the food chain drastically which then leads to fish shortages.

What are the Known Effects of El Niño?

1)  It brings about drought in the West Pacific area.

2)  It is associated with Australia Bushfires.

3)  It causes more rainfall across the Southern United States and Peru which leads to destructive floods.

Some people have asked why El Niño has not yet been stopped and the answer is simple: there is no way to stop or reverse it. It is a phenomenon that scientists are still trying to solve up to this day.