El Niño

El Niño

  • El Niño is a massive reorganization of atmospheric convection associated with severely disrupted global weather patterns, affecting ecosystems, agriculture, tropical cyclones, drought, bushfires, floods and other extreme weather events worldwide.
  • El Nino is defined as an interaction between the ocean and the atmosphere which happens in the tropical Pacific ocean at the equator.
  • The cycle begins when warm water in the western tropical Pacific Ocean shifts eastward along the equator toward the coast of South America. Normally, this warm water pools near Indonesia and the Philippines.
  • During an El Niño, the Pacific’s warmest surface waters sit offshore of north-western South America and the trade winds weaken in the central and western Pacific.
  • The normal movement of surface water towards Indonesia is disrupted.
  • Surface water temperatures off South America warm up and there is less upwelling of the cold water from below to cool the surface.
  • The clouds and rainstorms associated with warm ocean waters also shift toward the east. The warm waters release so much energy into the atmosphere that weather changes all over the planet.
  • Rain and storm takes place in otherwise drier areas of S. America and California, while there is drought in Asia and Africa.



  • There are different sizes of El Nino – ranging from small to medium, large and the massive. The 2015 El Nino has been nicknamed as “Godzilla”.
  • El Ninos are also not to be confused with climate change. While an El Nino is a naturally occurring phenomenon, climate change is a man-made trend created mostly via the emissions of greenhouse gases.
  • Every three to seven years, the surface waters of the tropical Southern Pacific ocean either warm or cool by 1 to 3 degrees Celsius, creating weather conditions that are often the exact opposite of the normal.
  • The El Nino Southern Oscillation, known as ENSO, is when the surface waters experience the warming. The reverse effect, as brought on by the cooling of the surface waters and is known as La Nina.
Section : Environment & Ecology

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