El Nino Weather Conditions & Its Impacts

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    Context 

    • The 2015 El Nino might have played a major role in worsening global hunger and driving food insecurity in the tropics according to a study published in Nature Communications.
      • The researchers analysed ENSO association with child nutrition at a global scale by combining variation in ENSO intensity from 1986-2018 with children’s height and weight from 186 surveys conducted in 51 teleconnection countries — containing 48 per cent of the world’s under-five population.

    El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO):

    • ENSO is a global phenomenon, which affects the temperature and precipitation of many regions around the globe, including the Indian subcontinent. 
    • The most important factor with the ENSO is the ability of the scientists to predict its occurrence, thereby predicting the amount of rainfall and temperature in the region.

    Major Points of study 

    • The year 2015 saw one of the three strongest El Niño in the historical record resulting in extreme weather events.
    • ENSO conditions similar to 2015 El Nino would eliminate one year of progress towards the target of eliminating all forms of malnutrition worldwide by 2030 as part of the United Nations-mandated Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)
    • Results imply that almost six million additional children were underweight during the 2015 El Nino compared to a counterfactual of neutral ENSO conditions in 2015. 
      • This demonstrates a pathway through which human well-being is reliant on climatic processes.
    • Warmer and drier El Nino conditions restrict the access of adequate nutrition to a large number of children in the tropics, where the World Health Organization (WHO) already considers 20 per cent of children in these regions as severely underweight. 
      • That percentage increased by 2.9 per cent in El Nino years which affected millions of children.
    • The warming of the equatorial Pacific Ocean impacted weather patterns around the world.
    •  The year 2015 recorded the biggest one-year jump in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations on record, the hottest global surface temperature by one of the largest margins on record and severe drought in Ethiopia — all connected to the El Nino. 

    Suggestions 

    • Millions of children must be targeted with specific interventions in order to reverse the effects of malnourishment caused by the 2015 El Nino
    • These include:
    • Complementary foods in food-insecure populations
    • Nutrition education in food-secure populations
    • Multiple micronutrient supplementation

    El Nino

    • This is a name given to the periodic development of a warm ocean current along the coast of Peru as a temporary replacement of the cold Peruvian current.
    • ‘El Nino’ is a Spanish word meaning ‘the child’, and refers to the baby Christ, as this current starts flowing during Christmas.
    •  The presence of the El Nino leads to an increase in sea-surface temperatures and a weakening of the trade winds in the region. 
    • In a normal monsoon year (without El Nino), the pressure distribution along the coast of Peru in South America has a higher pressure than the region near northern Australia and South East Asia.

    Impact 

    • The outcomes of each El Niño event are never exactly the same: they depend on the intensity of the event, the time of year when it develops and the interaction with other climate patterns.
    • El Niño is often associated with warm and dry conditions in southern and eastern inland areas of Australia, as well as Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and central Pacific islands such as Fiji, Tonga and Papua New Guinea. 
    • During the northern hemisphere summer season, the Indian monsoon rainfall generally tends to be less than normal. 
    • In the northern hemisphere winter, drier than normal conditions are typically observed over south-eastern Africa and northern Brazil.
    • Wetter than normal conditions are typically observed along the Gulf Coast of the United States, the west coast of tropical South America (Colombia, Ecuador and Peru) and from southern Brazil to central Argentina. 
    • Parts of eastern Africa (Kenya, Uganda) also usually receive above-normal rainfall. 
    • El Niño is associated with milder winters in north-western Canada and Alaska due to fewer cold air surges from the Arctic – a result of a large-scale region of lower pressure centred on the Gulf of Alaska/North Pacific Ocean.

     

    Image Courtesy: WMO

    Source: DTE