El Niño

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El Niño refers to the change in climate across the Pacific Ocean. Although it normally occurs every two to seven years, the El Niño phenomenon has taken place more often in the past three decades. El Niños have an effect on and weather around the globe. A single phase can last for about one and a half years and is often followed by an opposite climate pattern called, La Niña.

The term El Niño means “Christ child” and was first used by Peruvian fishermen. They that in some years there were fewer fish around Christmas time.

In normal years, cold water comes from the Antarctic region and flows along the eastern of South America. A high-pressure area develops, warms the water on the and pushes it in a westward direction. In the western Pacific, the air becomes warmer. A low-pressure area forms and leads to rainfall in Indonesia and northern Australia.

Because of this climate cycle cold water rises from deeper regions of the South American coast to the warmer water on the surface. This part of the ocean belongs to the richest fishing regions of the world because fish can find more than enough food.

During a typical El Niño phase, the air is higher than normal in the western Pacific and lower than normal on the South American coast. Ocean along Peru and Chile become higher and the water does not have the nutrients that fish need to . They stay in the colder regions near the Antarctic. Other animals that feed on fish also suffer so that the whole food chain is . In addition, more comes to a normally dry area and occasional also occurs. On the other side, eastern Australia and Indonesia are hit by unusual periods of weather. Climate experts have seen more tropical storms in the central Pacific during an El Niño year.

El Niño does not only affect the climate of the Pacific regions but has an impact on climate. Climatologists claim that frequent occurrences of El Niño are another sign of global .