After last year’s El Nino weather conditions, weather patterns are changing again. Scientists say La Nina will be taking over soon, affecting weather – and industries – around the world. According to a recent Bloomberg.com report, “As the effects of the most severe El Nino in almost 20 years still reverberate globally, parts of the world are already preparing for La Nina.” The agriculture industry, in particular, is keeping a watchful eye on the shifting weather patterns, as both El Nino and La Nina historically have impacted the industry.
El Nino, as cited in an informative video on the website, is described as a disruption of the whole Pacific weather system that occurs when the ocean surface warms up more than usual.. The extra heat in the atmosphere causes shifts in global weather patterns. Even though El Nino is an expected part of nature’s weather cycle, every few years there’s a “super-charged” version of El Nino (like what we experienced throughout 2015) that makes global headlines with extreme heat and higher-than-average rainfall in some areas.
Both El Nino and La Nina impact the agriculture industry, where farmers need to contend with weather patterns that can cause either too much or too little rain, depending on geographic location and other factors. “A large part of the agricultural U.S. tends to dry out during La Nina events,” according to the Bloomberg.com report. The opposite of El Nino, La Nina is a cooling of the waters in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. A NASA report says, “La Nina can also spur abnormal weather patterns across the world.” But, while she may be on her way, La Nina isn’t here yet.
Turning to history for guidance, NASA scientists predict that the shift from El Nino to La Nina will happen after June of this year. George Huffman, a research meteorologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, says that “based on past El Nino events, rainfall associated with the global phenomenon should continue through June,” but impacts of El Nino will “take a while to propagate around the globe.” Some people within the agriculture industry predict that El Nino will stick around through August. A recent SuccessfulFarming article reports, “According to Dr. Elwynn Taylor [an Iowa State University Extension climatologist], a strong El Nino will likely still be in play until August and that means higher yields. How much higher? As of now, Taylor believes the most likely corn yield is 173 bushels per acre.”