As El Niño starts flip to La Niña, Latin America asked to be on alert

El Nino and its abundant rains could soon turn into droughts caused by La Nina as well as an intense hurricane season across South America

April 19, 2024 01:00 pm | Updated 01:00 pm IST

Pea plants are damaged by drought, due to the El Nino weather phenomenon in Madrid municipality near Bogota, Colombia, January 17, 2016.

Pea plants are damaged by drought, due to the El Nino weather phenomenon in Madrid municipality near Bogota, Colombia, January 17, 2016. | Photo Credit: Reuters

Latin American nations must be on high alert as the weather phenomenon known as El Nino rapidly switches over to La Nina, experts said on Thursday, leaving populations and crops little time to recover.

El Nino and its abundant rains could soon turn into droughts caused by La Nina as well as an intense hurricane season across South America, experts said at a panel organized by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The full weather pattern involving El Nino, La Nina and a neutral phase typically lasts between two to seven years. But experts said that the transition period from El Nino to La Nina is getting shorter.

"We just saw it happen," said Yolanda Gonzalez, director of the International Research Center for the El Nino Phenomenon. "A year ago we came out of a Nina, and in March there were already signs of a Nino."

"Now in March, April there are signs of a Nina," she added. "We haven't been able to recover from the impact."

In South America, the weather patterns can hit key crops such as wheat and corn, denting commodity-dependent economies.

The phenomenon is not caused by climate change, FAO's technical team told Reuters, but experts have seen that the effects of the weather pattern, such as rainfall, heat waves and drought, have become more extreme.

The rapid transitions between El Nino and La Nina could also be correlated with climate change, FAO said, though scientists have yet to establish definitive causation.

"These abrupt changes, and the fact that these cycles are now almost overlapping, ultimately decreases the ability to adapt to the changes," said Marion Khamis, FAO's regional risk management specialist. "This implies a huge challenge."

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in

Comments

Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.