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HomeExplainer | El Nino: The "Little Boy" and the not-so-little effects of...

Explainer | El Nino: The “Little Boy” and the not-so-little effects of the dry spell it brings

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The El Niño is a climate phenomenon that occurs in the tropical Pacific Ocean every two to seven years.

It is characterized by warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures, changes in atmospheric circulation, and often results in unusual weather patterns around the world. (Read also: Pacific Wind and Current Changes Bring Warm, Wild Weather)

The name “El Niño” means “the little boy” in Spanish, and it was named for the Christ child because the phenomenon is typically most noticeable around Christmas time.

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The warm water associated with El Niño typically spreads from the western Pacific to the eastern Pacific, bringing heavy rains and flooding to the western coast of South America and drought conditions to the western Pacific. It can also affect weather patterns in North America, causing more rainfall in some areas and droughts in others. [Read also: El Niño & La Niña (El Niño-Southern Oscillation)]

NEGROS Occidental has lost more or less P6.11 million worth of crops due to the dry spell brought about by the El Niño phenomenon. As of March 5, 2019, 253 farmers are currently affected by the dry spell. The area in the picture hasn't felt the full effect yet, just very limited crop growth. | "Dry Landscape" by Brian Evans is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.
NEGROS Occidental has lost more or less P6.11 million worth of crops due to the dry spell brought about by the El Niño phenomenon. As of March 5, 2019, 253 farmers are currently affected by the dry spell. The area in the picture hasn’t felt the full effect yet, just very limited crop growth. | “Dry Landscape” by Brian Evans is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

El Niño is a natural climate phenomenon that has been occurring for millions of years, but it has become more frequent and intense in recent decades. Climate scientists believe that human-induced climate change is likely contributing to the increased frequency and intensity of El Niño events.

The impacts of El Niño can be severe, causing crop failures, food shortages, and economic disruption.

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For example, the 2015-2016 El Niño event caused drought conditions in parts of Africa and South America, leading to food shortages and economic hardship.

In addition, El Niño can also affect ocean ecosystems, causing coral bleaching and the disruption of fish populations.

El Niño has affected the Philippines many times in the past. The exact number of times it has hit the country is difficult to determine, as El Niño events can vary in intensity and duration, and their impacts may be felt differently in different regions of the country.

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However, some notable El Niño events that have affected the Philippines in recent years include the following:

1982-1983: This was a severe El Niño event that caused droughts and crop failures in many parts of the Philippines, leading to widespread economic losses.

Relief Web reported that El Niño–related droughts affected 450,000 hectares of farmland in the Philippines

2002-2003: This was a moderate El Niño event that caused some droughts and crop failures in the Philippines, particularly in the southern parts of the country.

2009-2010: This was a mild El Niño event that caused slightly warmer and drier weather than usual in many parts of the country.

2015-2016: This was a severe El Niño event that caused widespread droughts, water shortages, and crop failures in many parts of the Philippines, particularly in the southern and central regions of the country.

These are just a few examples of the many El Niño events that have affected the Philippines over the years. While the country has experienced a range of impacts from these events, they have often been associated with droughts, water shortages, and crop failures, which can have significant economic and social consequences.

There are several organizations that monitor and track El Niño events, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. These organizations provide regular updates on El Niño conditions and the potential impacts on weather patterns around the world.

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Julius D. Mariveles
Julius D. Mariveles
An amateur cook who has a mean version of humba, the author has recently tried to make mole negra, the Mexican sauce he learned by watching shows of master chef Rick Bayless. A journalist since 19, he has worked in the newsrooms of radio, local papers, and Manila-based news organizations. A stroke survivor, he now serves as executive editor of DNX.
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