Hot Topics : El Niño and Drought in Southern Africa (GS-1 Mains)

Short Notes or Micro Notes 

El Niño and Its Impact:

  • El Niño: Warming of ocean surfaces in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean (every 2-7 years).
  • Current Crisis:
    • Severe drought in southern Africa (Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe) due to El Niño.
    • February 2024: Driest month in 40 years for Zambia and Zimbabwe (WFP).
    • Millions rely on agriculture; corn (staple food) heavily affected.
    • Nearly 50 million in southern/central Africa already facing food insecurity (WFP).
  • Global Impact:
    • Influences weather patterns, ocean conditions, and marine fisheries worldwide.
    • 2016: Hottest year on record due to El Niño.
    • 2015-16: Worst drought in 35 years for southern Africa.
    • 2024: Potential global economic losses of $3 trillion (study in Science journal).
  • Impact on India:
    • Weak monsoons, drought-like conditions, reduced rainfall, heatwaves.
    • Crop failures, water scarcity, economic disruptions due to extreme weather.

La Niña (ENSO Cycle Opposite of El Niño):

  • Cooler than average ocean temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.
  • Stronger trade winds pushing warm water towards Asia.
  • Upwelling of cold, nutrient-rich water off the Americas.
  • Global Weather Impact:
    • Drought in South American countries (Peru, Ecuador).
    • Floods in Australia.
    • High temperatures in Western Pacific, Indian Ocean, off Somalia.
    • Influences Indian weather patterns.
  • Impact on India:
    • Potentially better monsoon rains, good agricultural yield, economic benefit.

Additional Notes:

  • ENSO (El Niño-Southern Oscillation) cycle includes El Niño, La Niña, and a neutral state.
  • La Niña can cause heavy floods in some regions despite increased rainfall in India.

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