El Niño means The Little Boy, or Christ Child in Spanish. The name El Nino was chosen based on the time of the year during which these large-scale ocean-atmosphere climate interactions occur.
Originally, the event was recognized by fishermen off the coast of South America in the 1600s, with the appearance of unusually warm water in the Pacific Ocean.
During the months of December and March, this phenomenon occurs on the Pacific coast of Latin America, causing large-scale impacts on global weather and climate, and intensified by existing climate change. An El Niño occurs when warm water from the west Pacific (Indonesia, Philippines) moves east to South America. The increase in temperature of to water causes warming in sea surface temperatures across the central and east-central Equatorial Pacific, resulting in heavy rains on the east Pacific Coast. El Niño events usually last about 9 to 12 months and occur every few years at varying intensities.
The El Niño can cause major damage through landslides and floods, which recently made the Peruvian government declared a state of emergency in many regions of the country. Entire villages and thousands of homes are destroyed every time, and meteorologists predict that this summer will be very hot in Peru. According to the National Weather Service of the United States, this year’s El Niño will be the strongest ever recorded, even surpassing the El Niño event of 1997/1998, which caused major droughts and floods all over the world.
Local campaigns are already being held in many parts of Peru to help prevent as much damage as possible, but will it be enough? The Peruvian government and regional authorities are holding drills in areas that are in danger of landslides or floods so that they are prepared in case anything happens. Despite these efforts to save human life and property, many oceanic species will die because of the temperature change of the ocean. For example, the Humboldt Current will warm up and kill many fish, adversely affecting the important Peruvian fish industry.
This El Niño may be the worst to come, causing droughts in Brazil and floods in parts of Argentina. Europe awaits an extremely cold winter, Oceania and parts of Asia will face severe droughts, while the US will be exposed to intense humidity and heat. Let’s not forget that this phenomenon does not only affect South America, but it alters the climate of many other countries as well.