For the first time in a century, we are headed for a third consecutive episode of that climatic phenomenon we call “La Niña”. The World Meteorological Organization has been warning for months and gave up to a 70% chance. However, countries like Australia have been taking it for granted for weeks and it is important. Above all, because if it is confirmed it has consequences.
What is ‘The Girl’? Both El Niño and La Niña are part of a cyclical (although somewhat irregular) climatic phenomenon that usually occurs in periods of between two and six years and has enormous effects on the world as a whole. Specifically, La Niña “produces large-scale cooling of ocean surface waters in the central and eastern parts of the equatorial Pacific.”
This entails another series of changes in the tropical atmospheric circulation, but that is not what is really interesting: the problem with El Niño/La Niña is that it affects such large regions of the Pacific that it ends up altering the winds, atmospheric pressure and rainfall of all the world.
What produces this phenomenon? “The effects of La Niña throughout the world, called teleconnections, are very varied,” explained Alfredo Costa, an expert on Climate Change at the Argentine Antarctic Institute, on the BBC. Droughts occur in the Horn of Africa, in the southern part of South America, on the one hand; and above-average precipitation increases in Southeast Asia and Western Oceania, on the other. In Europe, its impact is less because “the climate is more affected by other meteorological factors”; but, at least in this, Spain is not Europe (or not entirely).
How does all this affect us?. However, in the Iberian Peninsula things change. Due to its special geographical situation, it does seem to be affected by the effects of La Niña. For months now, researchers such as Juan Jesús González from the State Meteorological Agency have pointed out that “one can begin to think that La Niña is what is causing this dry and persistent pattern” in the country.
It must be remembered, however, that the current drought began before La Niña: it started in 2014 and, since then, each water season has been worse than the previous one. La Niña, in any case, has come at the worst time: a severe drought when we had had increasingly scarce reserves for six years, has ended up generating the problem we are in: unless the Atlantic storms begin to arrive, the water cuts will be widespread.
Does climate change strike again? In reality, as the United Nations Organization points out, La Niña is not directly related to climate change. After all, it is “a recurring natural phenomenon that has been going on for thousands of years.”
However, as Petteri Taalas, the WMO Secretary-General points out, “climate change increases the effects of natural phenomena, such as ‘La Niña’, and has an increasing impact on weather conditions, in particular through greater intensity of heat and droughts”. In other words, it is likely that although La Niña has no connection with him, his identity does.