El Nino is an ocean warming phenomenon that occurs at intervals of a few years and results in global alterations of weather patterns. The term El Nino originated from Peru and Ecuador meaning The Child. This was because the phenomena happened at around Christmas period as the year came to an end. This implied that the Peruvian fishing season was over and prompted fishermen to move offshore and start preparations for the next fishing season. ENSO is an acronym for El Nino Southern Oscillation which refers to the periodic warming of sea surfaces in the eastern central equatorial. This causes short term changes in climate all over the world. ENSO appears to be an important medium of maintaining long term climate stability since it serves the purpose of transporting heat from the tropics to the higher latitude areas. ENSO also results in changes in the sea levels and alterations in distribution of tropical rainfall from the eastern Indian Ocean towards the east of the tropical Atlantic.
El Nino is widely associated to global disasters such as floods and drought occurrences. Such disasters directly translate to food crisis and deterioration in the economy especially in agricultural regions of the African continent. Scientists have come to the conclusion that El Nino could also have positive impacts. With advancements in weather pattern studies, predictions on El Nino could be used to warn people in the regions to be adversely affected so as to take precautions. Unlike other disasters, the El Nino is totally predictable and will not hit a region unexpected. It is however important to note that the effects of the El Nino are a bigger concern to humanity since they impact directly on us. For instance, with increased rainfall in equatorial countries like Kenya, malaria cases are increased due to enhanced breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Flooding in Peru also resulted in loss of lives and property. It is important to acknowledge that the El Nino phenomenon is imminent and there is no way of stopping its occurrence. The greatest thing we can do is to plan adequately to counter its effects and even harness the conditions associated with El Nino into economically viable situations.
Scientists have adopted various methods of predicting an El Nino. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) climate prediction center has set up a network of around 70 stationary buoys on the equatorial pacific. This is commonly referred to as Tropical Atmosphere Ocean array and provide data about sea surface conditions. Satellites also compliment information obtained on the sea surface. Numerical computer methods have also been formulated to help predict ENSO events however, they do not provide the effects over a given period of time. Once an El Nino is predicted, the looming effects vary for different regions of the globe. Some regions will experience an increase in rainfall while others a decrease. Some coastal lines will be higher while in another region, the sea level goes down. In the United States, an increase in rainfall is experienced in areas within and around California and the southern states. Decrease in rainfall is recorded in the Pacific North-West states of Ohio and Tennessee. In the Eastern states, El Nino results in increased coastal storms during winter and spring. During warm seasons El Nino affects hurricane development. It favors more Eastern Pacific Hurricanes and lesser Atlantic hurricanes.
Prediction of El Nino patterns is not sufficient and such information is only profitable if it is used to minimize disasters. From the 1997 El Nino which lasted almost a year we know the havocs it rendered in various parts of the globe. From this information we are able to prepare populations to be affected. In areas likely to be affected by drought, the populations could be warned to adopt food preservation methods such as storage of maize in silos. The Red Cross has also been utilizing such information to take aid to regions such as south Sudan, Niger and Zimbabwe. The governments of these countries have also been advised to allocate more funds into providing food for their citizens.
For countries predicted to be affected by floods, the population could be relocated from low plain land regions to the highlands and as for side effects such as increased malaria cases in equatorial countries, anti-malaria drugs could be procured. Populations should also be educated on the practices to avoid. For instance Indonesia during an El Nino episode experiences extra-dry conditions. Farmers in this country usually prefer preparing land for cultivation of palm oil by setting fires since it is a very fast and effective method. Prior to an El Nino, the population could be prepared by forewarning against such practices. This is because during such extra dry conditions, fires are bound to get out of control and thus prove more costly due to the damages caused. Fishermen are also advised to avoid fishing regions to be affected by high tides. For this region, Peruvian fishermen retreat offshore and focus on fixing their fishing gear since they understand that at this time, fishing is unproductive.
El Nino is majorly associated with negative effects, however from scientific research as highlighted in this paper, we also get to know how to optimize on the El Nino phenomenon to reduce on costs incurred by making predictions and warning populations to be affected.
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