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The Disasters El Nino Brings

2018-09-03  |   Editor : houguangbing  

In March, 1997, there was an abnormal increase in the surface temperature of the tropical central and eastern Pacific Ocean. By July, the surface temperature had been higher than ever before, making the signs of climate changes start to appear in some areas. It was showed that the cold water period in the eastern equatorial Pacific had ended and began to shift towards warm water period gradually.

Thus scientists believed that a new phenomenon of El Nino began to form and would last until 1998. It was also from this moment that the climate had changed dramatically. In southern Africa, El Nino has caused the worst drought since 1997 and left about five million people at risk of famine. In the western Pacific, El Nino damped rainfall, plunging Indonesia and Papua New Guinea into droughts and forest fires. Storms and snow heavily hit countries like Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, Uruguay and eastern Brazil along the eastern Pacific coast. More than 51,000 refugees suffered from flooding in nine of Chile's 13 regions. Near the boundary of Argentina and Chile, the mountain aera of Andes was covered by up to 4 meters of snow, blocking roads and trapping people in it.

Along the coast of Ecuador, there have been violent floods, disrupting communications and leaving thousands of people homeless. The cause of this marine biological disaster is the El Nino warm current, an equatorial counter-current flowing from west to east in the northern part of Peru's cold current, which is generally weak and has little impact. In years of El Nino, the dynamic of this current was enhanced, turning to the area where the southern Peru cold current was due to the block of the South American continent, and made the water temperature rise abruptly by 3 ~ 6 ℃.

The warm environment caused massive die-off of plankton and fish that used to live in this area but couldn’t adapt to the warmth. Seabirds and sea mammals were starved to death without food or had to move to other places.

In the worst days during the disaster, the dead bodies of fish, seabirds and other marine animals were strewn around the sea and beaches of Callao, an outer port of Lima, Peru's capital.

The dead animals decayed and produced hydrogen sulfide, causing the discoloration and stinking of the sea, blackening the hulls of ships in harbour. With the fog or breeze from the sea blowing towards the port, the surfaces of the buildings and cars near it are also coated with a black layer, just like someone painted them. Locals called this “graffiti” of El Nino “the Callao Painter”.

The strong phenomenon of El Nino, which occurred from 1982 to 1983, made the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean water 4℃ higher than usual in temperature. This phenomenon lasted for nearly two years, which was very rare in many years. It caused great damage to the global climate anomalies. In 1982 alone, one quarter of the world was affected by various kinds of climate anomalies. More than 10 million people were killed and tens of billions of dollars were lost.

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