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El Nino affected by global warming

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The climatic event El Niño, literally “the Baby Jesus”, was given its name because it generally occurs at Christmas time along the Peruvian coasts. This expression of climatic variability, also called El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), results from a series of interactions between the atmosphere and the tropical ocean.

It induces drought in areas that normally receive abundant rain and, conversely, heavy rainfall and floods in usually arid desert zones. Scientists term this phenomenon a “quasi-cyclic” variation because its periodicity, which varies from 2 to 7 years, shows no regular time pattern. Research conducted over the past 25 years, by oceanographers, climatologists and meteorologists has much improved knowledge on the mechanisms generating an El Niño event.

However, possible influence of other systems of climate variability on the ENSO regime is more difficult to fathom. More particularly, it is not known if the intensity and frequency of the event is susceptible to modification in a situation of global warming.

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