El Niño effects on rainfall in South America: comparison with rainfalls in india and other parts of the world
- Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais, São Jose dos Campos, SP, Brasil
Abstract. As a finer classification of El Niños, ENSOW were defined as years when El Niño (EN) existed on the Peru coast, Southern Oscillation Index SOI (Tahiti minus Darwin pressure) was negative (SO), and Pacific SST anomalies were positive (W). Further, Unambiguous ENSOW were defined as years when SO and W occurred in the middle of the calendar year, while Ambiguous ENSOW were defined as years when SO and W occurred in the earlier or later part of the calendar year (not in the middle). In contrast with India and some other regions where Unambiguous ENSOW were associated predominantly with droughts, in the case of South America, the association was mixed. In Chile on the western coast and Uruguay etc. on the eastern coast, the major effect was of excessive rains. In Argentina and central Brazil, the effects were unclear. In Amazon, the effects were not at all uniform, and were different (droughts or excess rains) or even absent in regions only a few hundred kilometers away from each other. Even in Peru-Ecuador, the effects were clear only in the coastal regions. In the interior and in the Andes, the effects were obscure. In NE Brazil, El Niños have been popularly known to be causing severe droughts. The fact is that during 1871–1998, there were 52 El Niño events, out of which 31 were associated with droughts in NE Brazil, while 21 had no association. The reason is that besides El Niños, another major factor affecting NE Brazil is the influx of moisture from the Atlantic. In some years, warmer Atlantic in conjunction with westward winds can bring moisture to NE Brazil, nullifying the drought effects of El Niños. A curious feature at almost all locations is the occurrence of extreme events (high floods or severe droughts) in some years, apparently without any El Niño or La Niña events. This possibility should always be borne in mind.