“El Niño-La Niña are reciprocating patterns that create wet and dry conditions on the land, and simultaneously, conditions of abundance and famine in the marine environments.
In the Galapagos Islands for example, warmer water from El Niño means more rain on the land but a famine for birds and animals that feed at sea, such as sea lions. This is because the cold upwelling water brings nutrients which stimulate marine organisms and create more baitfish. Conversely, colder upwelling water – La Niña – means more food for sea lions but less food for terrestrial organisms.
Global weather is like a giant reciprocating engine: for one piston to go down another must go up, and not just on land: 71% of the Earth’s surface is ocean.”
NOTE: post initially appeared on WSJ.com on May 24, 2016
Concerns remain that La Niña will make an appearance before the end of the year
The El Niño weather phenomenon that plagued Asia since the second quarter of 2015 has now ended, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said Tuesday.
Sea-surface temperatures across the tropical Pacific Ocean have cooled and trade winds have returned to normal, indicating the end of the weather pattern, according to the bureau, which issues an update every two weeks.
“Outlooks suggest little chance of returning to El Niño levels, in which case mid-May will mark the end of the 2015-2016 El Niño,” it said.
The weather pattern brought about one of the worst water crises since records began in the 1950s, with lower-than-normal rainfall in eastern Australia and Southeast Asia and a drier monsoon season in India. It also caused significant drought in parts of Africa and unseasonal weather in South America. Globally, El Niño has put 60 million people at risk from insufficient food because of severe drought, according to the United Nations.
Dry weather and lower yields have pushed up prices for a number of agricultural commodity products, such as robusta coffee and palm oil, due to concerns about tighter supply.
While El Niño may have ended, concerns remain that another sometimes troublesome weather pattern, La Niña, will make an appearance before the end of the year.
“International climate models indicate the tropical Pacific Ocean will continue to cool, with six of the eight models suggesting La Niña is likely to form during the austral winter (from June to August),” the Bureau of Meteorology said. However, it said there is only a 50% likelihood of La Niña forming.
La Niña typically brings drier-than-usual weather to some U.S. states and South American countries and causes wetter-than-normal conditions for much of Australia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Central America. It also increases the chance of tropical cyclones in the Pacific.