Just like the weather in general, everybody seems to talk about El Nino, but nobody ever does anything about it. Well, maybe that is beginning to change. It now appears that mankind may actually be responsible, (to some extent), for causing this weather phenomenon in the first place. In addition, even if we are indeed part of the conditions that cause El Nino, we certainly are not in a position to prevent it. The best we can hope for is to predict it's arrival and estimate it's strength.
El Nino has for as long as we can determine, been a regular if somewhat unusual climatic event. It usually makes its arrival around mid-winter. The Peruvian fisherman who first took notice of it called it " El Nino" in honor of the Christmas Christ child.
Exactly what is El Nino and where does it come from? The weather system now known as "El Nino" actually begins some months before mid-winter when trade winds in the western tropical Pacific decline, or even shift direction, switching from westward to eastward. When this happens, a body of warm water that normally collects in the ocean just east of the Australian continent begins to move toward the coast of Peru. Warm air rising from the surface of this water (which can be as much as 12 degrees above normal) acts like a rudder, redirecting the path of the earth's jet stream. When the path of the jet stream is altered, weather conditions from Australia to the Americas and African can be radically changed. Areas that are usually warm may become cool, and places that are usually dry may become very wet, and vice-versa. .
When this huge pool of warm water flows from Australia to Peru it also has the effect of slowing or stopping the rise of cold, nutrient rich water that typically appears along the western coast of South America. This cold high-oxygen water would usually rise up from deep in the Pacific Ocean providing the start of a food chain that will eventually impact on fish, birds, marine mammals and human beings.