How can El Niño be predicted?
As mentioned earlier, El Niño is a climatic phenomenon. However, it is far from harmless; quite the opposite. For this reason, it is crucial to try to predict when it will strike next. In this regard, the world is doing quite well.
There are numerous meteorological and climatic systems that collect data on various important variables, such as surface water temperature, atmospheric pressure, and air circulation. All these factors are also related to El Niño.
Modern satellites and methods, including statistical models and numerical simulations, are also involved in monitoring. Although these methods can somewhat predict the onset of El Niño, these forecasts are not always accurate.
Observation methods are continually being improved, giving humanity a much better idea of how and when El Niño will fully manifest. However, we will probably never have the capabilities to be one hundred percent successful. El Niño is too complex a phenomenon for that.
How does it form?
The formation of El Niño is not due to a single event but is the result of a combination of several factors. The key is mainly the weakening of the trade winds in the equatorial region of the Pacific Ocean.
This leads to the accumulation of a large amount of warm water in this area, which would otherwise normally head east.
The accumulation of warm waters also slows down the underwater currents, preventing cold, nutrient-rich waters from reaching the ocean's upper layers.
Excessively warm surface waters of the ocean directly affect air circulation, atmospheric pressure, and precipitation. Thus, El Niño affects the climate across the entire planet. This phenomenon occurs once every two to seven years.
There even exists an opposite phenomenon where cold water accumulates on the ocean's surface, called La Niña.
What does it cause?
El Niño can manifest in various ways, but almost always has a negative impact on the entire planet. We can mainly expect extreme weather fluctuations. On one side of the globe, catastrophic droughts may occur, while on the other, people suffer from severe floods.
With the arrival of El Niño, there is usually an increased occurrence of typhoons in the Pacific. Conversely, the Atlantic usually sees fewer hurricanes.
El Niño commonly causes a decrease in fish populations in many areas, which means significant problems mainly in poorer parts of the world where people often rely on fishing for their livelihood.
Therefore, El Niño can significantly affect the economies of many countries.