It’s one of the biggest global climate events that can affect weather patterns everywhere, and it’s coming soon. El Niño, a meteorological event that’s natural and historically happens every few years, has a 70% chance of happening before the end of the year, according to the World Meteorlogical Office.
What is El Niño?
El Niño, or to give it its full name the El Niño Southern Occilation (ENSO), is a warm phase where ocean surface temperatures rise substantially in the equatorial region of the Pacific Ocean. Ocean surface temperture has a big impact on weather around the world, so a rise in temperature here can cause things like colder winters in the UK. It’s a complicated system, but the MET office in the UK has a great video explaining how it happens, what happens, and what the effects can be.
El Niño events typically occur every 2 to 7 years and can last between 9 months and 2 years. The last major event happened in 2014 to 2016.
Events on global weather
El Niño has a big effect on global weather events. For example, it shifts the way tropical cyclones form and more meaning areas that general have them such as China experience fewer, while areas that don’t have them as often such as Micronesia experience more. There can be reduced rainfall and higher temperatures in parts of Australia which means an increased risk of wildfires, and East Africa can have wetter-than-usual conditions. When El Niño lasts for several months it can stop cold water which natural wells up from deep in the ocean from surfacing. This water is full of nutrients and therefore important for fish and fisheries, so can affect fish populations and any communities which rely on fishing for income. It can also cause an increase in diseases linked to mosquitoes such as malaria, dengue fever and Rift Valley fever. This is because increased rainfall and temptures make great breeding grounds for mosquitoes, and the more mosquitoes, the more disease they spread.
What can you do?
El Niño is a natural cycle that can have major impacts. On its own, those impacts can have a devestating effect on communities. But if you couple them with the increased extreme weather events that are happening because of climate change, communities start to get hit over and over again by these events which makes it hard to regroup and repair between events. As well as cutting down on the amount of energy we use, you can also fundraise to help communities affected by extreme weather events to rebuild. You can also raise funds to help in the global fight against malaria, and we have loads of teaching resources and fundraising ideas to help, including teaching resources.
El Niño: What is it? – BBC News