Jul 05, 2016 09:50 UTC

Welcome to the 25th weekly episode of the series We Only Have One Planet to Live On. Today, we speak of the Impact of El Nino Phenomenon on the environment.

Last week, we spoke of climate change as a consequence of air pollution. However, one of the other phenomena which lead to climate change is El Nino.

A few years ago, the fishermen on the Peruvian coastlines observed a number of changes in the regional water currents. It was the first month of the New Year and the related festivities were just held, when they suddenly realized the warm southern water current, which adjusted the cold temperature of regional water currents.

The regional waters were the habitats of many water birds and fish species. These cold waters were highly nutritious for the aquatics and shaped an appropriate environment for them. Hence, fishing was at its peak. However, the unordinary presence of warm water currents changed the situation and dealt a blow against the fishing industry. Warm water currents remained in the region for one or two years and led to ample tropical rainfalls, which according to some, turned deserts into orchards. After this date, this phenomenon occurs once every few years; and given that the warming of the waters of South Pacific Ocean usually takes place around the anniversary of birth of Prophet Jesus, the regional fishermen refer to this phenomenon as El Nino.

In Spanish language, El Nino is defined as the small boy. Whenever the opposite occurs and cold water currents replace the warm currents, this is referred to as La Nina, or the small girl. In La Nina phenomenon which occurs after El Nino phenomenon, the water currents of the South Pacific Ocean become very cold.

El Nino is the most powerful climatic cycle of the past sixty-five years in the world, which occurs once every two to seven years, inducing major abnormalities in the planet’s climate. Some of these abnormalities are occurrence of sudden flashfloods, droughts, famines, and epidemics.

El Nino is a phenomenon which takes shape in the Pacific Ocean and due to the circulation of mid-waves, indirectly impacts the entire planet. In fact, this phenomenon is a major climatic development which occurs due to the release of energy, accumulated in the South Pacific Ocean. The first sign of this phenomenon is the change in the direction of cold and warm water currents and emergence of regional winds.

Throughout the recent years, researchers have carried out precise, extensive studies on the mechanism of formation of El Nino Phenomenon and the mutual impacts of the atmosphere and the ocean, especially in regard to the lack of uniformity of temperature on the sea’s surface, and the fluctuations of air pressure in the years in which El Nino occurs. Documented evidences show that in the past fifty years, El Nino phenomenon has been the main cause of drought in the world. In fact, droughts in Middle East in recent years have usually been caused by El Nino Phenomenon. Based on clear evidences, the 22% surge in dry regions within the 20th Century have mainly been the result of this phenomenon in the 1980s. Another study reveals that this phenomenon has originated rainfalls in Middle East, west of Indian Ocean, and east of Red Sea.

At the time of emergence of El Nino Phenomenon, tropical winds blow over the ocean from west to east. These winds take the Ocean’s warm water currents which have been heated by sunrays in tropical regions toward the West Coast of North and South America. Upon the warming of waters, rainfalls are pushed toward the east, resulting in the emergence of flashfloods in Peru, and droughts in Indonesia and Australia. The key sign of El Nino phenomenon is the unordinary rise of temperature across and on the two sides of the tropical region in Central and East Pacific Ocean. Once every few years, this current is paired with a huge and unordinary warming. Under this condition, the temperature of the sea surface rises above normal in three to five coastal locations, at least for a few consecutive months. In this case, the unordinary temperature remains for a year and/or even longer and in order to return to ordinary regional conditions, one has to wait at least until next January or March. Throughout the occurrence of El Nino Phenomenon, temperature abnormalities on the sea surface cover an area of five million square kilometers.

El Nino phenomenon causes the death of fish species, which in turn leads to the death of millions of water birds across the coastlines, thereby inflicting irreparable economic blows on the fishing industry in Peru and Ecuador. This phenomenon could also causes the death of other aquatics. Recently, the body of a huge whale was discovered on the coastlines of the State of Oregon in US West Coast. Researchers announced that the El Nino Phenomenon has weakened this huge whale and has ultimately taken its life. This phenomenon thinned the fatty layer of the related whale by ten centimeters.

One of the other negative impacts of El Nino Phenomenon is the occurrence of torrential rainfalls over arid lands. As the result of abnormal conditions which later surface in such regions, El Nino phenomenon is known as a natural catastrophe. This phenomenon also highly contributes to emergence of drought in India, East Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the entire Southeast Asia. For instance, the El Nino Phenomenon which occurred from 1982-1983 pushed a chain of torrential rainfalls toward east and center of Pacific Ocean. As a result, destructive flashfloods took place in south Ecuador, and northeast Peru.

 El Nino is coupled with a change in atmosphere’s currents. The related southern move is one of the root causes of climate change in the world. This phenomenon has captured the attention of experts as of 25 years ago, leading them to carry out extensive studies in this domain. In the first step, they forecasted the date of emergence of El Nino and La Nina Phenomena and the climate. Scientific research on the conduct of the atmosphere and oceanic currents can help experts in long-term prediction of weather conditions, which highly contributes to their preparedness to face floods, and droughts.

Experts opine that the El Nino Phenomenon is resurging, thereby reinforcing the possibility of emergence of drought in some regions, and occurrence of floods in others. This process can undermine monsoon winds in South and Southeast Asia. As the consequence, rainy seasons in South Africa will dry up, while concurrently ample rainfalls will be observed in East and South America. Under these conditions, experts are not sure whether the intensification of  El Nino phenomenon due to climate change has been the result of rising emissions of carbon dioxide or not. This in turn has made it more difficult to predict the emergence of El Nino Phenomenon. Meanwhile, undoubtedly, the role of mankind in negligence of divine blessings has highly contributed to occurrence of these environmental catastrophes.