El Niño is the name given to the abnormal warming of surface ocean waters in the eastern tropical Pacific. El Niño is the ever changing pattern of reversing surface air pressure between the eastern and western tropical Pacific; when the surface pressure is high in the eastern areas it is low in the western, and vice-versa.
Because the ocean warming and pressure reversals happen at the same time, scientists call this phenomenon the El Niño. South American fisherman gave this occurrence the name El Niño, Spanish for “The Christ Child,” because it comes at Christmas time.
El Niño occurs every 2 to 7 years, strong westward-blowing trade winds subside, and warm water slowly moves back eastward across the Pacific. The warm water and shifting winds interrupt the upwelling of cool, nutrient-rich water. Sea life dies and climatic changes affect many parts of the world.
During El Niño, tropical rains move eastward, influencing atmospheric wind patterns across the world. The worst El Niño of the 20th century occurred in the winter of 1982 and 1983. Weather changes took place around the world, causing worldwide damages of more than $8 billion. Australia suffered drought and bush fires, Tahiti was hit by 6 tropical cyclones, the fish industry in South America was devastated, Ecuador and Peru suffered floods and landslides as well as many other countries being affected. Not only humans were affected, across the Pacific Ocean mach of the coral reefs were damaged and some died completely.
During El Niño years flourishing fish populations commonly found off the west coast of South America are replaced by dead fish littering the water and beaches. Unusual weather conditions occur around the globe as jet streams are moved by the effects of http://www.climateandweather.net/global_warming/el_nino.htm> El Niño.