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The power of La Niña

Ben Allen | 11:49 UK time, Thursday, 13 January 2011


You’ve probably heard of El Nino or “Little boy” well there’s another equally damaging weather pattern called La Nina or “little girl.” The reason people have suddenly started talking about it is because it’s causing havoc on a global scale.

There’s massive flooding in Australia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and now Brazil with many hundreds dead and millions affected. Meanwhile, drought is leading to a spike in food prices in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. 

Experts say the cooling of the tropical seas in the Pacific is having a knock on effect around the world. For a good explanation have a look at this BBC video. La Nina is a regular weather pattern but it hasn't caused a major event like this since 1989.

Many of you will probably want to know if this is linked to climate change, well according to Reuters’ Climate Change Correspondent David Fogarty the jury is still out:

Some computer climate models tend to show a future trend toward more El Nino episodes as the world warms.

Climate scientists say it will be some years before a clearer pattern is likely to emerge. By then computers will be much more powerful to run detailed, high-resolution simulations to test the impacts of warmer oceans and atmosphere over time-scales of several decades to a century.

Scientists say a warmer world will mean more extreme droughts and floods and possible sudden shifts in ocean or atmospheric patterns, with devastating impacts.

Have you been affected by La Nina? Should we be more prepared for such weather patterns?
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