How El Niño Threatens Tropical Ecosystems and Economies

  Summer is here, “trouble” is brewing in the sea, the Pacific Ocean has shaken off La Niña, and at this time a long strip of cold water has formed off the coast of South America and is heading towards its counterpart: El Niño, which has emerged a warm belt.
  The chances of an El Niño event later this year are increasing, according to an update from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in Geneva in May. Scientists expect the 2023 El Niño to arrive within the next few months, with a 55 percent chance of being a particularly strong event. The shift could help raise global temperatures by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, the warming threshold set by the Paris Agreement, and affect weather around the world, causing severe droughts in some countries alongside extreme rainfall.
  The Update forecasts a 60% chance of transitioning from ENSO neutral to El Niño in May-July 2023, increasing to about 70% in June-August and increasing in July-September By 80%, this latest bulletin is based on information and expert assessments from the WMO Global Long-range Forecast Production Centre.
  The El Niño phenomenon refers to the phenomenon that the water in the eastern Pacific Ocean will warm up abnormally every few years. It is related to the warm current generated at the equator of the Central Pacific Ocean and the Eastern Pacific Ocean (about the international date line and 120 degrees west longitude). This phenomenon is called the “Eastern Pacific Heating Phase”, and the cycle lasts for two to seven years (usually close to four years). During this period, the air pressure in the western Pacific is higher and the air pressure in the eastern Pacific is lower. Most of the precipitation occurs from September to November.
  The phenomenon of “Eastern Pacific Cooling Phase” opposite to El Niño is called La Niña phenomenon. During this period, the sea surface temperature in the Eastern Pacific is lower than the average, the air pressure in the Western Pacific is lower, and the air pressure in the Eastern Pacific is higher. In modern times, the above two phenomena and the Southern Oscillation phenomenon are combined as El Niño-Southern Oscillation Phenomenon (ENSO for short), which refers to changes in the interaction between the atmosphere and the ocean at the equatorial positions of the tropical Central Pacific and Eastern Pacific Ocean, and the high and low temperature of the sea surface. cycle.
El Nino is destroying traditional ecology?

  Researchers predict that the economic devastation from El Niño could reach $3 trillion in the coming years, with low-income tropical countries hit particularly hard. Looking back to the past, the El Niño phenomenon in 1982-1983 and 1997-1998 caused global losses of 4.1 trillion US dollars and 5.7 trillion US dollars respectively. By the end of this century, the economic losses caused by the El Niño phenomenon may reach 84 trillion US dollars.
  ”El Niño has left a serious economic imprint on countries’ GDP growth,” said Christopher Callaghan, an Earth systems scientist at Dartmouth College.
  As El Niño warms Pacific waters, tropical nations are responsible for much of the knock-on effect. Peru is particularly vulnerable to heavy rainfall during El Niño, which damages infrastructure and floods crops. Normally, upwelling off the coast of Peru brings nutrients that feed fisheries, but during El Niño currents slow and marine heat waves kill some fish and rob fishermen of a source of income.
  In addition, the “lung of the earth” Amazon rainforest is severely dry, which has been destroyed by human development and burning in the early years. The drought has pushed parts of the Amazon to a worse tipping point, with the loss of trees endangering species and reducing the Amazon’s ability to sequester carbon.
  Earth contains a variety of elements, some in their natural state and others created by science. Often, certain elements undergo a process of changing from one state or form to another. In the carbon cycle, plants play a vital role in photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the process by which plants use energy, using solar energy to create their own energy source while synthesizing carbon dioxide CO2 and water as by-products. In photosynthesis, carbon fixation occurs.
  By definition carbon fixation means making something stable. In biology, carbon fixation involves adding carbon dioxide to organic molecules (usually carbohydrates) to prevent it from remaining in the atmosphere in a free state, also known as CO2 assimilation.
  Under normal circumstances, forests, especially tropical rainforests, due to their high vegetation coverage, rich species, and high photosynthetic efficiency, can effectively absorb part of the carbon dioxide in the air and release oxygen in the process, which can efficiently maintain carbon dioxide and oxygen in the atmosphere At the same time, it plays an important role in conserving water sources, maintaining water and soil, and purifying the air. Even if there is a certain degree of ecological environment system disorder, tropical rainforests can also effectively regulate. Therefore, tropical rainforests are rare “oxygen-producing plants” on the earth. machine”, “filter” and “stabilizer”.
  However, under the background of continuous escalation of human activities, global warming has become an established fact, which has caused a series of ecological and environmental problems such as uneven distribution of water resources, rising sea levels, frequent extreme weather, and aggravated local dryness and warming. All these changes have changed the basis for the stable existence of the forest ecosystem. Once the forest fires or is cut down, the carbon sequestration achievements of hundreds or even thousands of years will collapse in an instant, and carbon dioxide will be released into the air again.
Tropical countries are more affected

  Tropical countries tend to be the most economically vulnerable because of their proximity to El Niño, and their GDP tends to be lower than that of European and other northern regions.
  In general, agriculture, which is vulnerable to changes in rainfall, accounts for a larger share of GDP in low-income countries, so they lose relatively more if the weather turns. Subsistence farmers in particular risk not only losing their livelihoods, but also being unable to support their families. The situation is especially precarious for farmers without irrigation systems because the drought hits more directly.
  In contrast, countries with more developed economies tend to provide stronger safety nets for their agricultural industries. David Ubilawa, an agricultural economist at the University of Sydney, said: “Suppose there is a severe drought in Europe and the United States, and the loss of crops will be borne by the insurance company. A huge policy complex can ensure that farmers will not suffer too much. impact, but in most low- and middle-income countries it is much worse.”