Latest analyses from NASA confirm that El Niño is strengthening and it looks a lot like the strong event that occurred in 1997–98.
Photo: © NASA

Some effects of the ‘super El Niño’ are already being felt

At least ten million poor people face hunger this year and next due to droughts and erratic rains, influenced by climate change and the likely development of a ‘super El Niño’.

According to climate scientists, the next El Niño could be the biggest since 1997/98, when this last big El Niño caused climate chaos and humanitarian disasters in many countries from Peru to Indonesia.

The latest analyses from NASA confirm that El Niño is strengthening and it looks a lot like the strong event that occurred in 1997/98, NASA reported on its website in October 2015. Observations of sea surface heights and temperatures, as well as wind patterns, show surface waters cooling off in the Western Pacific and warming significantly in the tropical Eastern Pacific. This El Niño is now “too big to fail,” according to a NASA climatologist.

Millions of poor people are already feeling the effects of this super El Niño, warns the non-governmental organisation Oxfam in the same month. At least ten million poor people face hunger this year and next due to droughts and erratic rains, influenced by climate change and the likely development of a ‘super El Niño’.

Oxfam warns that crops have already failed in Southern Africa and Central America, driving up the price of corn on local markets. Ethiopia and parts of South East Asia are suffering from the effects of drought and are braced for worse in coming months.

Effects of record high temperatures and the ‘super El Niño’ that are already being felt include:

  • The Government of Ethiopia estimates that 4.5 million people will need food relief by the end of the year because of poor rains.
  • The corn harvest in Zimbabwe is 35% below average following drought.
  • By February 2016, more than 2 million people in Malawi are expected to be struggling to find enough food.
  • In Guatemala and Honduras hundreds of thousands of farmers have suffered the partial or total loss of their crops through drought and changes to the seasons.
  • Papua New Guinea has been hit by torrential rains that caused landslides, then drought and severe heat that withered crops, affecting 1.8 million people.
  • Indonesian authorities have declared a drought in the majority of the country’s 34 Provinces.


Such extreme weather events are going to increase as climate change continues to exasperate. 2014 was the hottest year on record and this year looks set to exceed it, says Oxfam. The organisation warns that increasing climate chaos, like El Niños, could pose a serious threat to the stability of the global food system and increase humanitarian emergencies at a time when resources and capacity are already under enormous strain.


(Oxfam/NASA/ile)

More Information:

Oxfam Briefing-Paper „Entering Unchartered Waters

NASA-Website