In March, 1997, there was an abnormal increase in
the surface temperature of the tropical central
and eastern Pacific Ocean. By July, the surface
temperature had been higher than ever before,
making the signs of climate changes start to
appear in some areas. It was showed that the cold
water period in the eastern equatorial Pacific had
ended and began to shift towards warm water period
Thus scientists believed that a new phenomenon of
El Nino began to form and would last until 1998. It
was also from this moment that the climate had
changed dramatically. In southern Africa, El Nino
has caused the worst drought since 1997 and left
about five million people at risk of famine. In
the western Pacific, El Nino damped rainfall,
plunging Indonesia and Papua New Guinea into
droughts and forest fires. Storms and snow heavily
hit countries like Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Argentina,
Uruguay and eastern Brazil along the eastern Pacific
coast. More than 51,000 refugees suffered from
flooding in nine of Chile's 13 regions. Near the
boundary of Argentina and Chile, the mountain aera
of Andes was covered by up to 4 meters of snow,
blocking roads and trapping people in it.
Along the coast of Ecuador, there have been violent
floods, disrupting communications and leaving
thousands of people homeless. The cause of this
marine biological disaster is the El Nino warm
current, an equatorial counter-current flowing from
west to east in the northern part of Peru's cold
current, which is generally weak and has little
impact. In years of El Nino, the dynamic of this
current was enhanced, turning to the area where the
southern Peru cold current was due to the block of
the South American continent, and made the water
temperature rise abruptly by 3 ~ 6 ℃.
The warm environment caused massive die-off of plankton
and fish that used to live in this area but couldn’t
adapt to the warmth. Seabirds and sea mammals were
starved to death without food or had to move to other places.
In the worst days during the disaster, the dead bodies
of fish, seabirds and other marine animals were strewn
around the sea and beaches of Callao, an outer port of
Lima, Peru's capital.
The dead animals decayed and produced hydrogen sulfide,
causing the discoloration and stinking of the sea, blackening
the hulls of ships in harbour. With the fog or breeze from
the sea blowing towards the port, the surfaces of the
buildings and cars near it are also coated with a black
layer, just like someone painted them. Locals called this
“graffiti” of El Nino “the Callao Painter”.
The strong phenomenon of El Nino, which occurred from
1982 to 1983, made the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean
water 4℃ higher than usual in temperature.
This phenomenon lasted for nearly two years, which was very
rare in many years. It caused great damage to the global
climate anomalies. In 1982 alone, one quarter of the world
was affected by various kinds of climate anomalies.
More than 10 million people were killed and tens of
billions of dollars were lost.