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ANDEAN COUNTRIES
El Niño arrives
8/12/2009
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Data show that the potentially devastating phenomenon will hit until 2010.

Research from climatic agencies around the world points to an upcoming El Niño event, the potentially destructive phenomenon that has destroyed crops, biodiversity and even cost lives with its extreme, abnormal weather patterns.

On July 9, the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, said that the event has already officially begun, after higher-than-normal temperatures of tropical Pacific Ocean waters were registered.

“Advanced climate science allows us to alert industries, governments and emergency managers about the weather conditions El Niño may bring so these can be factored into decision-making and ultimately protect life, property and the economy,” said Jane Lubchenco, under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.

The Guayaquil, Ecuador-based International Center on El Niño Research said that the water temperatures in the eastern Pacific are approximately 1.5-2.5ºC higher than normal in some areas along the equator.

More than 2,000 people died in the 1997-98 El Niño event in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, where floods and draughts caused US$7.5 billion in damages.

Ricardo Lozano, director of Colombia´s Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies Institute, said it is not possible to predict how strong it will be, but he said that droughts in Colombia´s Andean and Caribbean region, and an increase in rains along the Pacific coast are likely.

For Ecuador and Peru´s northern coast, the NOAA has forecast the first heavy rains to hit in the first four months of 2010. A climate study published by the Andean Community of Nations in May 2008 warned that El Niño could increase in intensity and frequency because of climate change.

The body warned that the two extreme El Niño events in 1982-83 and 1997-98 highlighted the region´s vulnerability to natural disasters.
—Latinamerica Press.


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