El Nino 2009

The Times of July 13th 2009 describes how El Nino, the warming of the Pacific Ocean that creates chaos in global weather patterns, is on its way back, threatening droughts, floods, crop failure and social unrest.
Scientists at America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), warn that a new bout of El Nino is under way as the surface of tropical waters across the eastern Pacific has warmed roughly IC (l.8F) above normal and is still rising. Further down, some 150 meters (500ft) below the surface, the waters are heating up – by around 4C (7.2F).
The persistently warm sea temperatures are important indicators of an El Nino.
There is also a link between the ocean and the atmosphere, with Indonesia tending to dry out as tropical rainfall shifts towards the international dateline in mid-Pacific.”
The implications are severe, not just for climate but for the effects on food, water supplies and other commodities. Australia, still recovering from its worst drought in a century will be affected
again if the rains fail with consequences for the wheat belt. Indonesia is one of the world’s biggest producers of palm oil – a basic source of income for many of its poor – and a drought would hit this commodity hard. Farming in India is already suffering from an abnormal monsoon, which scientists think could be related to the emerging El Nino. The rains arrived early but stalled. Shortages and food prices caused riots all over the world in 2008, from western Africa to Mexico, Uzbekistan, Haiti and Egypt, as well as consumer protests in Europe and panic in food importing countries. Rice-producing nations were urged to stop hoarding supplies as stocks fell to their lowest levels for 30 years.
The emerging El Nino is expected to continue strengthening over the next few months and reach a peak during the northern hemisphere’s winter.

The regions affected
1 Pacific coast of South America prone to floods
2 Australia. Indonesia. Philippines suffer droughts
3 United States tends to have fewer hurricanes. California stormy. and milder winters 4 Southern Africa can suffer drought
5 Parts of East Africa flooded
6 Indian monsoon can be disrupted

El Ninos recur every few years and vary hugely in strength . A severe one badly influences weather patterns across the Pacific and beyond, leading to drought in some areas and heavy rains in others, such as the western coast of South America,
In the last severe episode in 1997-98 torrential rains pulverised California, heat waves swept across Australia and Brazil, forest fires swept Indonesia, eastern Africa was flooded while southern Africa withered under drought, and floods and storms caused billions of dollars’ damage to crops and buildings.
There is even a positive aspect for Australians: a recent study has linked El Nino to increased chance of an Australia-in-Australia Cricket Ashes victory. Records from 1882 to 2007 show that the tendency for dry wickets in El Nino years favours their fast bowlers.
This was written by Paul Simons, the Times Weather Correspondent and author of Weird Weather, The Strangest Weather in the World

Martin Eastwood

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