El Nino Effects
By guest writer, S. B. F.
Wondering about El Nino effects?
While El Nino begins in the eastern portion of the Pacific Ocean (western coasts of North and South America), it eventually affects the entire world. Not all the effects are the same everywhere. Much of the changes in weather brought about by El Nino will depend on the location and latitude. The El Nino effects are so substantial that they can go beyond climatic changes to health and economic effects as well.
Because El Nino begins off the western coast of South America, where the waters become warmer than normal, the effects are much greater here than in other parts of the world.
Some of the El Nino effects are numerous thunderstorms in this region, such as Ecuador and Peru. As a result, major flooding can occur. This is particularly true when the El Nino is a strong one.
In addition, the warmer water can result in the death of numerous species of fish and other aquatic life in the region. The fishing industry may come to a near standstill resulting in economic turbulence.
Other portions of South America such as Brazil and Argentina will also experience wetter than normal conditions during an El Nino event in the spring and summer. Central Chile will see a mild, wet winter while the Amazon Basin, Columbia, and Central America will see drier and hotter weathers.
During an El Nino event, winters in North America are warmer and drier in the Northwest, Upper Central Plains and Northeast, resulting in less snow. However, summers in these regions tend to be wetter than average.
Meanwhile, the Southwest portion of the United States along with northern Mexico will see a cooler and wetter winter season.
Canada will experience a warmer and drier winter along with a warmer and drier summer season after that.
An El Nino event will bring wetter than normal conditions to much of Africa including Kenya.
Other areas such as Zimbabwe and Botswana will see drier conditions.
The continent of Australia and areas like Indonesia will also see warmer and drier conditions, increasing the risk of brush fires and also air quality issues.
Even Antarctica is influenced by El Nino effects. There is usually more sea ice in the Amundsen and Ross Seas during an El Nino as the warmer temperature melts the glaciers.
The effect of the phenomenon on Europe is not entirely clear because it is not nearly as affected as other regions of the world. There is a little bit of evidence that El Nino effects will result in a wetter and cloudier winters in Northern Europe and a mild, dry winter in the Mediterranean region.
There is some evidence that an El Nino also works in suppressing hurricane activity in the Atlantic Ocean. With an El Nino event, the subtropical high pressure ridge that usually guides hurricanes shifts position. As a result, the tracks of hurricanes change as well.
El Nino also brings stronger than normal higher altitude winds which help to shear apart hurricanes as they are developing. For example, areas west of Japan and Korea have seen fewer tropical cyclones from September through November as a result of the El Nino. However, if an El Nino is a weaker one, the effect on the hurricanes might not be as strong as desired.
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