[QODLink]
Weather

The return of El Nino

The risk of drought and flood could increase in the coming months as the counterpart to La Nina begins to develop.

Last updated: 06 May 2014 09:00
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
The direct result of El Nino is a change in ocean temperatures which have a dramatic effect on fish and bird life [EPA]

The spectre of flooding and drought in different parts of the world appears to be looming large as an increasing number of climate scientists predict the return of El Nino.

In its strictest sense, El Nino is the warming of the seas in the Pacific. Its counterpart is La Nina, a cooling of the same region.

They arise as a result of the Southern Oscillation, a see-sawing of pressure and wind between high pressure over the eastern South Pacific and low pressure centred near Indonesia.

Although the direct result of El Nino-La Nina is a change in ocean temperatures which have a dramatic effect on fish and bird life, the knock-on effect on weather patterns has a great impact on human activities around the globe. (Click on El Nino to find out more.)

The latest organization to predict its return is Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology. On Tuesday the Bureau said that there was a 70 percent chance of an El Nino, with its emergence predicted to be as early as July.

Meanwhile, Dr Wenju Cai, a climate expert at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation claims that a 6 deg C rise in Pacific Ocean temperatures in recent months, well in excess of previous El Nino years, and the rapid eastward movement of water in the Pacific, point towards a significant event.

"A strong El Nino appears early and we have seen this event over the last couple of months, which is unusual; the wind that has caused the warming is quite large and there is what we call the pre-conditioned effects, where you must have a lot of heat already in the system to have a big El Nino event."

His conclusions are based on data released by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The last major El Nino was in 1997-8. It was blamed for the flooding along the Yangtze River in China, which killed more than 1,500 people.

Globally, the economic cost of this event was calculated at $35 to $45 billion, largely as a result of its impact on the agriculture and fishing industries.

362

Source:
Al Jazeera
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Since she was 16-years-old, Scottish Nationalist Party's Sturgeon has strove for independence from the UK.
Armed group's ransom success with German hostages marks a re-emergence, as authorities investigate ISIL links.
Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.