india drought
The International Research Institute for Climate and Society, New York, which is the world’s El Nino watchdog, has in an astonishingly candid article dated 30 June 2014, cleared eight misconceptions about El Nino and La Nina. (

“For years, people have been pointing to El Niño as the culprit behind floods, droughts, famines, economic failures, and record-breaking global heat. Can a single climate phenomenon really cause all these events? Is the world just a step away from disaster when El Niño conditions develop? What exactly is this important climate phenomenon and why should society care about it?” The IRI post begins with these questions and then goes on to provide clear and honest answers.

The plain truth that emerges from the IRI discussion can be summarized as follows:

* El Nino does not spell doom for the whole world.

* It is not true that during an El Nino event, there are more disasters than usual, at least on a worldwide basis.

* El Nino and La Nina do not affect the entire global climate. Only 25% of the world’s land surface gets affected during any particular season, and less than 50% of land surface during the entire time that ENSO conditions persist.

* Since media coverage tends to focus on disasters, there is a feeling that El Nino has only adverse effects. This is not so. El Nino has positive impacts as well, for example, reduced frequency of Atlantic hurricanes and plentiful spring/summer rainfall in south America leading to higher crop yields.

* There is no reason to press the panic button the moment the first El Nino signal appears. Effects may take several months to show, and they may not even last for the entire period.

* La Nina may be good for rainfall over tropical land areas, but it is associated with increased risk of drought throughout much of the mid-latitudes.

* Strong El Nino/La Nina, events do not necessarily imply stronger impacts. There have been strong El Ninos (1997-98) with weak impacts and weak El Ninos (2002) with high impacts.

* The relation between El Nino/La Nina with global warming is yet to be established.