• El Niño: fact and fiction

El Niño: fact and fiction

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Without question, the 1997–98 El Niño became a major news story, even a household word. Reports of floods, forest fires, droughts, fishery collapses, along with the ensuing loss of lives and property, regularly featured in newspapers and magazines all over the world. Many people thought that this was a new phenomenon, an emerging menace related to climate change. But we know that this is not the case. El Niño is an ancient, recurring climatic event on our planet. In contrast to the precise recurrence of the seasons, El Niño is irregular and multiannual and this may help to explain the difficulty that many people have in comprehending its vagaries.

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