Â“It rose out of the tropical Pacific in late 1997, bearing more energy than a million Hiroshima bombs. By the time it had run its course eight months later, the giant El NiÃ±o of 1997-98 had deranged weather patterns around the world, killed an estimated 2,100 people, and caused at least $33 billion in property damage.Â”
Now compare this with:
Â“Four months of rain in AndalucÃa has taken its toll on a region of Spain better known for making headlines about drought. 23 percent of agricultural land in the region has been damaged by the rain and flooding. The Junta de AndalucÃa has admitted that the rain has been of a persistence and intensity unknown in the region, and they have given some data on the damage done. Some of the areas in CÃ¡diz, CÃ³rdoba, JaÃ©n and Sevilla, have seen more than double a yearÂ’s average rainfall in just four months. About 427,000 hectares of land has been damaged with the most affected crops being the olive, citrus fruits, vegetables, strawberries, raspberries and cereals. Sevilla and JaÃ©n are the most affected provinces.Â”
This is not to mention the financial loss incurred by businesses and damage to properties and even flooding. According to Â‘El PeriodicoÂ’ the rainfall during February throughout Spain has averaged 117 litres per square meter, more than twice the average between 1971 and 2000, which, according to the StateÂ’s Meteorological Agency is the greatest rainfall seen in February for 30 years.
Given the similarity, why doesnÂ’t anybody speak of El NiÃ±o and La NiÃ±a? Is it conceivable that the Â“great mindsÂ” have given up trying to understand Mother Nature and now pin it all on Global Warming? Yet the phenomenon is probably the greatest tool available for predicting dramatic weather changes.
I am not saying that Global Warning and the Greenhouse effect have no influence on the climatic changes that we are experiencing; they probably have contributed to increasing the effect of a natural phenomenon that would have occurred anyway.
I still remember the Â“hoo haaÂ” that was made years ago about El NiÃ±o and La NiÃ±a but I cannot help noticing that they seem to escape a mention in the daily press.
For reasons that scientists still do not comprehend, every few years the trade winds subside or even disappear. The usual air-pressure pattern reverses itself in a phenomenon called the southern oscillation, making barometer readings higher in Australia than they are in the central Pacific. The resulting patternÂ—known as ENSO, for El NiÃ±o/Southern OscillationÂ—involves only one-fifth of the circumference of the planet. But it transforms weather around the globe.
El NiÃ±o then gradually subsides giving slow rise to a La NiÃ±a event, an abnormal cooling in the eastern Pacific producing conditions more or less the opposite of those created by El NiÃ±o. Over the years, the appearance of La NiÃ±a has been less predictable than that of El NiÃ±o, and fewer of its effects have been recorded.
A more detailed explanation of this phenomenon is found on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Ni%C3%B1o-Southern_Oscillation
Meanwhile, according to the World Meteorological Organisation, the current El NiÃ±o event, which started in June, 2009 continues to have significant and widespread impacts and forecasters cannot rule out its persistence; even during the decaying phase of El NiÃ±o expected over the next few months, the conditions associated with it will continue to influence climate patterns at least through the second quarter of the year.
In case you wondered, no it is not the end of the world, and it is not the end of Sunny Spain either.
I believe this is just a phase which may or may not have been made worse by pollution, but which was due to take place anyway. Perhaps it is natureÂ’s way of cleaning up the air.
One thing is certain, when El NiÃ±o can cause such devastating changes to our way of life and when a volcano in Iceland can stretch its erupting dust plume over most of Europe stopping all planes from flying, it certainly makes me realise our insignificance on this earth.