Cruel Forecast: What El Niño Brings for 2016

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( — December 31, 2015) — The US space agency NASA warns there is a possibility that in 2016 weather phenomenon El Niño will worsen droughts in some areas and increase flooding in others, BBC reported.

In the next six months El Niño will affect regions such as the Caribbean, as well as Central and South America, NASA warns.

Africa will be hit the most by El Niño which should cause food shortages, especially in February 2016. Around 31 million people could face starvation across Africa. Due to droughts and floods, 10.2 million people in Ethiopia will likely need humanitarian assistance, announced humanitarian organizations.

El Niño is a global atmospheric and oceanic phenomenon, caused by fluctuations in wind direction and water temperatures in the central Pacific Ocean, expanding towards North and South America.

This anomaly happens at irregular intervals of two to seven years, and lasts from nine months to two years.

Periodic effects of El Niño have contributed to 2015 being the hottest year so far.

There is no scientific consensus on what causes El Niño, or what the mechanism by which it affects the weather might be. Research indicates it is likely El Niño has existed since the end of the last ice age.

Name El Niño, given by Peruvian sailors, means “a little boy”, a reference to Child Jesus, because the pool of warm water in the Pacific near South America is the warmest late in the calendar year, during Christmas season.

The opposite of El Niño is La Niña – “a little girl”. Both El Niño and La Niña, cause global and extreme changes in weather: floods, storms, droughts…

The strongest El Niño period was in 1998, when about 16 percent of coral reefs on the planet became extinct. Since then, special attention has been paid to the study of El Niño.

World Meteorogical Organization (WMO) announced earlier in 2015 that the new measurements and satellite images show that in 2016 we can expect a stronger El Niño globally.