El Niño Costero In Perú: A Story to Tell

Heavy rains, floods and thunderstorms have affected thousands of families in Perú since January 14th, 2017. Apparently, Peruvians were not prepared to face this strong natural events as well as their later consequences: Overpopulation of mosquitos that spread dengue and other diseases as chikungunya virus, reduction of some important crops (rice, banana, yucca, yellow corn, avocado, cotton, asparagus, sugar cane, mango, grapes, alfalfa and lemon) (El Comercio, 2017a) and damages in many public facilities (bridges and roads) and private property (houses) - 100000 victims, 157000 houses damaged, 159 bridges collapsed and 1 900 km of roads destroyed were the result of these climate events(Guillén, 2017). 

Trujillo: City Under Water as Consequence of El Niño Costero Floods

What have caused such social and economic impacts in Perú? Scientist tell us that answer to this question is “El Niño costero”, one especial variation of El Niño (ENSO) that occurs when there is an irregular increase in the temperature of the ocean surface restricted to Peruvian and Ecuadorian coasts; this is, in the ocean region known as Niño 1+2 (0-10°S and 90- 80° W) (BBC, 2017).

Perú has suffered consequences of “El Niño Costero” during different years (recently 2009, 2012, 2014 and 2015); nevertheless effects of “El Niño Costero” as this year  have not been seen since 1925, according to Jonathan Cárdenas, expert of the Peruvian National Meteorology Service (SENAHMI) in interview to Peruvian Tv News Program, which has caught the attention of many scientists to figure out if it could be a signal of a ENSO phenomenon with planetary consequences. 

As consequence of  “El Niño Costero”,  fishes population distribution has been affected with a dominance of warm water fishes in the north and center of country and displacement of “pejerrey” and other cold water fishes to Peruvian southern. Impact in agriculture are foreseen in a reduction of 1.2%  points during this year (reduction was of 3.8% points in  82-83 and 1.1% in the PBI of 97-98) (El Comerciob, 2017) with important impacts in the Peruvian economy. 



Places affected by El Niño Costero According Peruvian National Meteorologic ServicePeruvian First Minister have affirmed that  reconstruction tasks after “El Niño Costero” could take approximately one year  an investment of  US$ 6.400 millons to reach the  14 peruvian regions  affected, which could have the 25% of  government agenda for the next 3 or 4 years (El Comercio, 2017c).

But not all El Niño consequences are bad; this year,  for example could be possible the increment of wild relatives of domesticated crops in the north of Perú due to a big natural irrigation of desert. Likewise, floods carried a lot of sediments and nutrients to soil wich could help the growing of important local vegetation, occasioning the natural forestation of the north dry forest (Fraser, 2017).

According the Multisectorial Commite to study El Niño (ENFEN) “El Niño costero” will continue up to May, with less intensity than in February and March, nevertheless precipitations will continue in departments of Tumbes, Piura, Lambayeque and La Libertad (Northern from Perú) and is important to continue with intensive monitoring of Peruvian climatic conditions (SENAMHI, 2017).

At this point it is important remember that “El Niño Costero” as El Niño (ENSO) are not just climate events that need to be studied to measure their impacts on ecosystems and prevent future damage, but also they are events that can change people's lives, like happened in Peru this year. Many families have lost their homes, their things and relatives and need help to recover in part their lifestyle before El Niño. Here you have some links to show us the impact of this natural phenomenon in the life of people.  

An hero child saved his brothers from flood

A woman emerged from the water

City under water 

Dog Trying to Reach their Owner in the Flood

Because, government not always could reach all affected people, some organizations as Caritas del Perú is asking help (food, cloth, articles of personal care or economic support) in a national campaign called “Perú Da La Mano” that is receiving help of people around the world.

If you want to help Peruvian people affected by “El Niño Costero” follow this link https://caritasdelperu.wixsite.com/inundaciones/dona  and if you want to share messages of encouragement for GLOBE schools that have been affected by this climate event you can do it leaving a comment on this blog.


BBC, 2017. Qué es "El Niño costero" que está afectando a Perú y Ecuador y por qué puede ser el indicador de un fenómeno meteorológico a escala planetaria. Consulted in May, 2017. ONLINE. Available in http://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-america-latina-39259721

El Comercioa. 2017. Instituto Crecer: PBI agrícola se reduciría en 2% por El Niño. Consulted in May, 2017. ONLINE. Available in http://elcomercio.pe/economia/negocios/instituto-crecer-pbi-agricola-se-reduciria-2-nino-noticia-1987514

El Comerciob, 2017. MEF prevé que El Niño costero restará 1,2 puntos al PBI en 2017. Consulted in May, 2017. ONLINE. Available in http://elcomercio.pe/economia/peru/mef-preve-que-nino-costero-restara-12-puntos-al-pbi-2017-noticia-1988034

El Comercioc. 2017. Zavala: Se podrán usar hasta US$6.400 mlls. para reconstrucción. Consulted in May, 2017. ONLINE. Available in http://elcomercio.pe/politica/gobierno/zavala-se-podran-usar-hasta-us6400-mlls-reconstruccion-noticia-1988220

Fraser, B. 2017.  Surprise El Niño causes devastation but offers lessons for ecologists. How Peruvian coastal deserts respond to rains will aid future disaster response. In Nature News. Consulted in May, 2017. ONLINE. Available in http://www.nature.com/news/surprise-el-ni%C3%B1o-causes-devastation-but-offers-lessons-for-ecologists-1.21891

Guillén, J. 2017. El Niño Costero y su Impacto en la Economía Peruana. Consulted in May, 2017. ONLINE. Available in http://www.esan.edu.pe/conexion/actualidad/2017/03/22/nino-costero-impacto-economia-peruana/

SENAMHI. 2017. COMUNICADO OFICIAL ENFEN N° 08- 2017. Estado del sistema de alerta: Alerta de El Niño Costero. Consulted in May, 2017. ONLINE. Available in http://www.senamhi.gob.pe/load/file/02204SENA-76.pdf







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