First recorded “El Niño”

The first recording of an “El Niño” was in 1578. The climate phenomenon occurs every two to seven years, and is caused by a rise in water temperature in the eastern Pacific. Currents then carry the warm waters eastward and low pressure weather systems develop above them, triggering extreme weather in many regions of the world.

In the Americas, El Niño often causes extreme precipitation; in Australia and parts of Africa it can cause cycles of drought and landscape degradation. Some experts attribute the extremely cold winters in Europe, e.g., in 2010, to the El Niño phenomenon. Further, the rise in water temperatures often leads to a large-scale dying off of fish, seabirds, and coral.

Further Readings: 
  • Caviedes, César. El Niño in History: Storming through the Ages. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2001.
  • Grove, Richard. El Niño: History and Crisis: Studies from the Asia-Pacific Region. Cambridge: White Horse Press, 2000.
  • Miller, Shawn William. An Environmental History of Latin America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.