posted at 23:50
Author Name: Agence France Presse
El Nino Likely To Develop
The "El Nino" phenomenon, which sparks climate extremes around the globe, is likely to take hold in the Pacific Ocean by the end of the year and could even do so within weeks, the UN said on Thursday. The El Nino phenomenon - which can lead to extremes including droughts and heavy rainfall across the globe - occurs every two to seven years, when the prevailing trade winds that circulate over surface waters in the tropical Pacific start to weaken. "El Nino leads to extreme events and has a pronounced warming effect," said WMO chief Michel Jarraud. El Nino drags precipitation across the Pacific, leaving countries including India and Indonesia drier. El Nino also causes heavier-than-normal rainfall in the eastern Pacific and South America - raising the spectre of floods and landslides, as well as shifting nutrient-rich ocean currents that lure fish. The name El Nino is believed to have been coined in the 19th century after Peruvian fisherman observed it around Christmas - the word is Spanish for "Boy", in reference to the infant Jesus Christ. "Our understanding of El Nino and La Nina has increased dramatically in recent years and this knowledge has enabled us to develop very successful climate services for society," said Jarraud. "Advance warning has given governments around the world time to make contingency plans for the impact of this year's expected El Nino on the agriculture, water management, health and other climate-sensitive sectors," he said.

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