The South American country of Peru has been hit by a sudden and unusual warming of Pacific waters.
Extremely heavy rainfall has caused overflowing water bodies, raging rivers, landslides, and crop destruction.
The downpours have killed around 65 people, and left at least 70,000 homeless. Unfortunately, most of the people that have been heavily affected by the floods, are poor. There is also no electricity, clean water to drink, and no means of transport in the affected areas. Approximately 50 archeological sites in Peru are in trouble.
What Is Causing The Extreme Weather?
A phenomenon known as El Niño is the reason behind the extreme weather. But what is it?
El Niño is a climate pattern where the water in the Pacific Ocean near the equator gets warmer than normal, due to warming of the air above. This causes ocean currents to change, bringing unusually wet winters to the coast of North and South America, and dry weather to Asia.
The impacts of El Niño occur roughly every year, but are completely unpredictable. This is why no one saw the extreme floods of Peru coming- there hasn’t been an incident like this along the coast of Peru since 1998.
Some scientists believe that the floods were caused by ‘Coastal El Niño’. The difference between El Niño and Coastal El Niño is that El Niño covers most of the tropical Pacific, and has an impact worldwide. Coastal El Niño impacts specific regions, that are mainly on the coast. Water temperatures off the coast of Peru are 6 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than usual for this time of the year. Other scientists believe that this is a part of a global trend in weather on coastal regions, caused due to climate change.
According to experts, Peru's problem lies in poorly planned cities that are unable to support the growing number of people who are moving in from surrounding villages. Many of these people live in slums built on river banks or on steep slopes. The drainage and sewage systems are old and the cities poorly planned. To makes matters worse, there are no warning systems to help people evacuate.
As climate patterns change around the world, countries around the world are likely to see more flooding, storms and droughts. It is important they plan and invest in infrastructure to safeguard their people and economies.