El Niño to bring extreme weather conditions

February 7, 2023

Recently, scientists warned that next year might be the hottest year in history by the effect of El Niño which is very likely to happen this year. 

According to them, the possibility that an El Niño episode could occur between August and November this year is 66 percent.

This natural phenomenon affects the earth’s temperature and precipitation.

Observed for the first time by fishermen in Peru in the 1600s, El Niño refers to episodes when the temperature of upper layers of sea water in a wide area of the equatorial Pacific centring on the sea off Peru is raised by more than 0.5 degrees centigrade and maintained for several months. 

When El Niño occurs, the global atmospheric temperature goes up by some 0.2 degrees and prolonged droughts hit Asia and central and southern Africa.  

Though it just involves some changes in the temperature distribution of the sea water in the equatorial Pacific, it causes extreme weather conditions to greatly affect the life of people.  

When the sea water temperature changes due to El Niño, the areas where large-scale winds and clouds can easily be formed are replaced by others and their effects spread around the world through atmospheric currents, which leads to extreme weather conditions.  

The past century witnessed some 30 El Niño episodes. Among them, those that occurred in 1982-1983 and 1997-1998 were strong and many extreme weather conditions were observed in different parts of the world during those periods. Especially, the 1997-1998 El Niño episode was the biggest one in history and the damage was the most devastating. 

In recent years, as global warming increased the heat content of the sea, El Niño episodes have become more frequent and their intensity and effects have grown stronger. 

The 2016 El Niño inflicted enormous sufferings on many countries. 

In May that year, the temperature rose to above 50 degrees centigrade in India, with the result that hundreds of people died, over 300 million residents suffered from a drinking water shortage and more than 10 provinces were declared drought-stricken areas. 

Earlier in March, the worst-ever drought in 100 years persisted in South Africa, causing massive damage to the country’s agriculture.  

In June, the atmospheric temperature which soared up to nearly 50 degrees centigrade caused deaths in Arizona, the US. In Japan, tens of thousands of persons were attacked by heatstroke as a result of the sultry weather which continued from late April. 

The long spell of hot and dry weather caused disastrous forest fires and severe food crises in many countries. 

Some 4.1 million people experienced food shortage in Zimbabwe, while one out of three households in the southern part of Madagascar were affected by desperate food shortages or compelled to migrate to other areas. 

Experts expressed concern that the atmospheric temperature might go up by more than 1.5 degrees centigrade if a large-size El Niño occurs amid the persistent global warming caused by greenhouse gas, saying that when the effect of global warming is taken into account, the world would have to suffer an unprecedentedly hot weather during the next El Niño episode.

The reality calls for taking preventive measures to minimize catastrophic effects of El Niño such as droughts caused by intense heat. 


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