The massive fluctuations that El Nino causes in the world's weather systems have changed the course of history. Unusually cold winters and the resulting poor crops helped forment the French Revolution. Hitler's march across Russia was halted by one of the harshest winters on record. Severe drought in India in 1877 killed millions while a drop in sea temperatures, leading to dwindling food stocks, precipitated the fall of the mighty Aztecs.
Would these events have happened without the impact of El Nino? This compelling documentary investigates El Nino; its history; its rise from little known occurrence to headline grabbing phenomenon; and whether its devastating power can be accurately predicted, or possibly even harnessed.
Charting the rise of El Nino in the world's consciousness, this intriguing documentary combines history and science to show how this meteorological monster has affected global economy and political history.
As knowledge of El Nino grows, increasingly sophisticated super computer models have been developed to predict global effects and allow vulnerable communities to try to adapt. Scientists are confident that they will soon be able to predict El Nino a year in advance. But now there is a new threat - global warming. The race is now on to find out what effect this will have on El Nino, and the future of this planet.
The words ‘El Ni?o’, mean The Little Boy or Christ Child, because the phenomena occurs in Latin America at Christmas time, but there’s nothing small or meek about its effect. In El Ni?o years, atmospheric disruption in the Pacific changes weather and rainfall as far away as Africa. Weaker wind patterns cause warm currents and a water temperature rise of around 4 degrees centigrade. Wind and rainfall patterns are affected, with heavy rainfall on the Pacific coast of Latin America and a disrupted monsoon cycle in the western Pacific. But El Ni?o is not a particular storm, or set of weather conditions as is often thought. It’s a phase during which certain atmospheric events become less or more likely than they are usually. It works in the way that seasons do in the temperate zone, to bring particular weather patterns.
This phase may last for 8-10 months and happens once every three to seven years. A complete cycle often includes a cold phase, La Ni?a and is called the El Ni?o/Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Between warm and cold phases, there are some ‘normal’ periods and the causes of these variations are still being studied. Scientists suspect that the El Ni?o effect is intensifying as a result of global warming.
El Ni?o has a huge impact on wildlife. For instance, there is a large area of very warm barren water in the western Pacific called the Warm Pool. Although there’s little food in it, a large population of skipjack tuna feeds on anchoveta at the western edge where current systems meet. In El Ni?o years the trade winds are less strong and so the whole pool spreads eastwards towards the Latin American coast, thereby shutting off the upwelling effect that usually make those waters so productive. In the following La Ni?a years the pool moves west again. It can move across 4000km of ocean in as little as six months.
Populations of seabirds, such as cormorants, boobies and pelicans are particularly sensitive to declining fish stocks caused by El Ni?o. And mankind is also affected. In 1982 the fishing industry in the Pacific basin achieved just 1 per cent of its usual anchoveta catch. An increase in malaria and inland and coastal flooding have also been noted and agriculture and farming were affected in Australia and Southeast Asia.
Title: The Life And Times Of El Nino
File Size: 699 MB
Video Length: 00:58:59
Video Codec: XviD
Video Resolution: 640x368
VIdeo Bitrate: 1618 kbit/s
Audio Bitrate: 165 kbit/s
Audio Codec: MPEG Layer-3