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Panlaqui, John Christian D.

ME-302 TTh 6:05-7:35

In our modern generation, we are experiencing various kinds of phenomenon that are
alarmingly occurring in most places of Earth. Some of them are the El Nino, La Nina and
Southern Oscillation. These phenomena are climatic events originating in the tropical Pacific that
recur every few years as part of a naturally-occurring cycle. Such events are a consequence of
strong and extensive interactions between the ocean and atmosphere. They are associated with
widespread changes in the climate system that last several months, and can lead to significant
socio-economic impacts affecting infrastructure, agriculture, health and energy sectors for
example. El Nio and La Nia episodes typically last nine to 12 months, but some prolonged
events may last for years. While their frequency can be quite irregular, El Nio and La Nia
events occur on average every two to seven years. Typically, El Nio occurs more frequently
than La Nia.

El Nio means The Little Boy, or Christ Child in Spanish. El Nio was originally
recognized by fishermen off the coast of South America in the 1600s, with the appearance of
unusually warm water in the Pacific Ocean. The name was chosen based on the time of year
(around December) during which these warm waters events tended to occur. The term El Nio
refers to the large-scale ocean-atmosphere climate interaction linked to a periodic warming in sea
surface temperatures across the central and east-central Equatorial Pacific. Typical El Nio
effects are likely to develop over North America during the upcoming winter season.

An El Nio event can start in several ways, usually with the sea surface temperature
raised slightly in the central/east Pacific. The increased sea surface temperature influences the
atmospheric winds, which in turn influence the upper ocean and the thermocline such that the sea
surface temperature is increased further - a positive feedback. When conditions are favorable,
this feedback generates an El Nio event.
Typically, it comes around every five years and what usually happens is that warming in
the oceans caused by the winds leads to diffusion of this warming all over the globe. It changes
atmospheric pressures with consequences for rainfall, wind patterns, sea surface temperatures
and can sometimes have a positive, and sometimes a negative effect on those systems. In Europe
for example, El Nio reduces the instances of hurricanes in the Atlantic. Mild winter
temperatures over western Canada and north western USA, above average precipitation in the
Gulf Coast, including Florida and a drier than average period in Ohio and pacific northwest are
some of its effects.
La Nia means The Little Girl in Spanish. La Nia is also sometimes called El
Viejo, anti-El Nio, or simply "a cold event." La Nia episodes represent periods of belowaverage sea surface temperatures across the east-central Equatorial Pacific. Global climate La
Nia impacts tend to be opposite those of El Nio impacts. During a La Nia year, winter
temperatures are warmer than normal in the Southeast and cooler than normal in the Northwest.
'La Nia' is the term adopted for episodes of cooler-than-normal sea surface temperature in the
equatorial Pacific. La Nia is sometimes referred to as the cold phase of ENSO and El Nio as
the warm phase of ENSO. These deviations from normal surface temperatures can have largescale impacts not only on ocean processes, but also on global weather and climate.

A La Nia event can arise similarly. It is caused by a build-up of cooler-than-normal


waters in the tropical Pacific, the area of the Pacific Ocean between the Tropic of Cancer and the
Tropic of Capricorn. Unusually strong, eastward-moving trade winds and ocean currents bring
this cold water to the surface, a process known as upwelling. I also affect atmospheric pressure
and temperature, rainfall and ocean temperature. Elsewhere in the world, areas that are affected
by La Nia experience the opposite of the effects they experience with El Nio.

Stronger

winds

along

Decreased

Temperatures are above average in the southeast and below average in the northwest

Conditions are more favourable for hurricanes in the Caribbean and central Atlantic area

Greater instances of tornados in those states of the US already vulnerable to them

convection

the
in

the

equatorial

region,

especially

Pacific

leading

to

in

weaker

the

Pacific

jet

stream

El Nio and La Nia are opposite phases of what is known as the El Nio-Southern
Oscillation (ENSO) cycle. The ENSO cycle is a scientific term that describes the fluctuations in
temperature between the ocean and atmosphere in the east-central Equatorial Pacific
(approximately

between

the

International

Date

Line

and

120

degrees

West).

During ENSO events the changes in sea surface temperature cause (and are influenced by)
changes in atmospheric circulation (i.e. wind and pressure patterns) and in temperature and
rainfall. Through atmospheric dynamics, these atmospheric changes extend well beyond the
tropical Pacific region. The Atlantic and Indian oceans are also affected, which in turn extends
and prolongs the impacts. The effects vary considerably with season and location.

Currently, El Nino and La Nina are the two most powerful phenomena on the surface of
the Earth. It can cause significant effect and alter the climate of half the planet Earth. In the
Philippines for example, the extreme phases of the ENSO phenomenon have a strong modulating
effect on seasonal rainfall, with El Nio often associated with drought and stresses on water
resources and agriculture, while cold events or La Nia often result in excessive rainfall. El Nio
related drought events in the Philippines causes degradation of soil which could lead to desertlike conditions if persistent, disruption of normal human activities, migration to urban
communities, human and health problems, food shortages, significant reduction in the
productivity and subsequent revenue of various industries, and can affect hydro-electric power
generation. On the other hand, impacts of La Nia on Philippine climate include anomalies in
rainfall, temperature and tropical cyclone activities. During La Nia conditions, major parts of
the country experience near normal to above normal rainfall conditions particularly over the
eastern sections of the country. La Nia conditions also favor tropical cyclone formation over the
western Pacific which tend to increase the number of tropical cyclones. In the last decade alone,
remarkable typhoons such as Yolanda, Ondoy, Pablo, and Sendong brought large amount of
rainfall and strong winds resulting to flash floods and earthquakes, claiming the lives of
thousands of people and leaving billions worth of destructed properties.
The sudden changes in the weather patterns all over the world such as the El Nino and the
La Nina phenomena are all indicators that Global Warming is changing the world. It is time for
the entire country to start acting to reduce the release of harmful chemicals in the air. The
countries should join hands and start imposing stricter measures before it becomes too late.