El Niño is
an abnormal heating up of the waters of the Pacific Ocean in equatorial
regions. El Niño means "the Christ Child", a name
given to it by Peruvian fishermen when, due to this phenomenon,
they saw all the fish disappear from the coast of Peru at around
Christmas time every 3 to 7 years.
This heating up of
the ocean waters has an impact on air pressure in certain regions.
For example, it has been shown that during El Niño droughts
occur in Southeast Africa and Northern Brazil, while the west coast
of South America experiences excessive rainfall and flooding. The
year after El Niño usually brings La Niña, with unusually
cold sea temperatures and the opposite effects.
The extensive forest
fires in Indonesia, the floods in China and other natural disasters
are all likely to be the result of El Niño. In East Africa
too, the climate seems to be influenced by El Niño/Southern