Positive and negative effects of El Nino

The term, El Nino, refers to the warm and negative phase of El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), a cycle of warm and cold temperature of the tropical central and the eastern Pacific Ocean. El Nino happens at the irregular intervals of two to seven years and lasts nine months to two years. During its occurrence, high pressure and low pressure develops in the eastern Pacific and western Pacific, respectively. It brings global climatic changes and the impact is high, in the regions bordering the tropical Pacific Ocean. Recently, the term came into picture due to the ongoing research on the severe 2015-16 El Nino event. In Spanish, the term El Nino means ‘a little boy’ and named so because the event initiates at the time of Christmas. A related event, La Nina, cold phase of ENSO, at times follows El Nino. At the global level, some regions bear its fruits and other face disturbance.

Positive and negative effects of El Nino

Positive effects of El Nino:

The El Nino event brings few assets.

Warmer climate

Many parts of North America have a favorable impact of El Nino. Southern Canada and northern continental United States encounter milder winters. It brings relief to the people in the region, which faces extreme winters. Also, drier weather in these areas means low risks to diseases.

Ecology benefits

The periods of low fish population removes the predators along the Peruvian coast. In this way, the El Nino event contributes to the survival of small and fast-growing species. It benefits the migratory birds, as they have to travel to distant cold areas for nesting because of these predators in tropics.

Economic effect

The high price agricultural output benefits exporting countries. During the event, the global energy and non-fuel commodity prices increases, which profits exporters. Figures show that a significant El Nino can boost the GDP of United States by 0.5%.

Negative effects of El Nino

The aftermath of El Nino is catastrophic at large.

Devastating tropical cyclones

Within the Atlantic Ocean, El Nino makes westerly winds stronger, in the atmosphere. The atmosphere can be drier or stable and intensifies tropical cyclone. In eastern Pacific basin, El Nino favors above-normal hurricane activity. Western Pacific basin experiences a change in the location of tropical events. Due to this, Micronesia faces several tropical cyclones during El Nino event. Also, the change in location elevates the risk of inundation for island nations in the western Pacific region.

Droughts and famines

The rainfall shifts from Western Pacific causing Australia to receive a reduced amount. New Zealand experiences stronger westerly winds in summer, which leads to an elevated risk of drier conditions along the east coast. This results in the droughts in the western Pacific regions. Many islands in the western Pacific record low rainfall and high temperature, followed by severe droughts, famines, and forest fires. In this way, El Nino destructs the normal life of people, flora, and fauna.

Fertilizer industry

El Nino reduces the cold water upwelling along the west coast of South America. This nutrient-rich water sustains the large fish population. The seabirds consume these fishes and drop the remains in the sea. Fertilizer industry utilizes these wastes in their production. Also, El Nino event affects the industry’s performance and profitability, as it doesn’t receive required raw material.

Local fishing industries

The shortage of fishes, along the west coast of South America, impact local fishing industry at large. During the El Nino event, fishes change their locations according to the water temperature and density. Shifting locations and types of fishes due to changing conditions provide challenges for fishing industries. Restrictions on the fishing areas for self-employed fishermen and industrial fleets increase the complications. Its economic effect on international market can be serious.

Economic discomfort

El Nino event reduces agricultural output and constrains the supply of rain-driven agricultural commodities. The food-price and inflation might trigger social unrest in the commodity-dependent poor countries that rely on imported food.


The low pressure across the eastern Pacific Ocean allows high rainfall in several portions of the South American west coast. It causes flooding in these regions, whenever the event is strong or extreme. Such flooding disrupts the normal life, where crop damages and people lose their home.

Health effects

Extreme weather conditions engender the incidence of epidemic diseases. The El Nino increases the risk of diseases transmitted by mosquitoes in several countries such as Brazil, Colombia among others.

Considering the fact that El Nino event constitutes major limitations, the government must undertake desired measures. Meteorological instruments can help in notifying the arrival of such an event. The requirement is the precautionary measures in the coastal areas. At the same time, the government must provide necessary subsidies or compensation to the agricultural sector, which suffers the tragic outcomes of El Nino in the form of floods and droughts.

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