The Characteristics and Devastating Effects of El Niño

El Niño is a natural catastrophe that occurs following the unusually high temperatures on the surface of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. The phenomenon has adverse effects on world temperatures. The implications are excessive rains, leading to floods in certain regions, and extremely high temperatures, causing severe droughts. The extreme weather conditions resulting from El Niño cause significant economic challenges in the affected nations. Water and food shortages are witnessed, as well as high rates of malnutrition and diseases. Apart from the alteration of weather patterns, El Niño also causes serious economic problems.

Characteristics of El Nino

El Niño is a subset of a larger phenomenon known as the El Niño Southern Oscillation. The phenomenon has “cool” and “warm” phases. The cool phase is characterized by the unusual cooling of the ocean surface waters and is labeled La Nina (Hess and Tasa 131). El Niño refers to the unusual warming of the ocean water in the surfaces of the central and eastern Pacific Ocean (Hess and Tasa131). This warming is as a result of the changes in the pressures of the surface ocean water. The weakening of the pressure gradient leads to the reduction of the trade winds which allows the warmer water from the western part of the Pacific Ocean to surge into the east. This phenomenon causes the build-up in the amount of warm water in the eastern part of the ocean that brings with it surplus rains, causing El Nino.

The unusual warming of the Pacific Ocean waters affects the temperature, strength, and speed of ocean currents. Extreme warming also changes the pattern and direction of trade winds. The implications are significant changes in the weather and climate of the globe. In some places, El Niño causes excess rains, while in the others it results in severe droughts (Hess and Tasa 131). Cases of floods and warmer temperatures in areas affected by drought are reported.

The specific period of occurrence of El Niño is not known since it does not follow a specific pattern. However, it is observed that El Niño will occur every 3 to 7 years. Forecasting for El Niño is based on the changes in the direction of the trade winds, the warming up of the Pacific Ocean surface water, and the variations in ocean current (Hess and Tasa 132). The changes in the climate and weather associated with El Niño can be used in the forecasting of future occurrences of the phenomenon.

Devastating Effects of El Niño

Apart from changing the patterns of weather, El Niño also causes significant economic damage in the affected regions. Areas that experience floods are plagued with cases of waterborne and other related diseases. In the eastern part of Africa where floods have been witnessed following El Nino, malaria is on the rise because of the increased breeding rates of mosquitoes. Further, more than 50,000 cases of cholera, which is a waterborne illness, were reported in South Africa (Kings). In the regions affected with drought, lack of food and water has been reported, instigating the need for relief aids from other regions.

Conclusion

El Niño has negative effects on the climate and the economy of the affected regions. It affects the weather patterns leading to higher incidences of droughts and floods. Moreover, people inhabiting the afflicted areas suffer from malaria and waterborne illnesses like cholera.

Response

Your discussion on Thwaites Glacier is very comprehensive and informative. The detailed description of the size and characteristics of the glacier gives a clear picture of the object to the reader. I agree with your assertion that glaciers hold water to enhance the water surface level of the sea. However, it is important to note that the melting of the ice also contributes to the rising level of the sea. In fact, such melting account for about 4% of the rise in the sea levels. More research is still underway to ascertain how fast and how much the glacier will melt with the continual warming of the globe.

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