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Asunto:[CeHuNews] 35/03 - A book about El Niño
Fecha:Domingo, 6 de Abril, 2003  02:35:29 (-0300)
Autor:Humboldt <humboldt>

Bebida de limón

CeHu News 35/03

El Niño in History

A recent book by Professor Cesar N. Caviedes that brings together all existing information, references, and clues about past El Niño occurrences that had an impact on political, military, social, economic, and environmental history.

The book is the product of more than thirty years of research on El Niño and compilation of numerous references contained in publications in Spanish, Portuguese, English, French, German and Italian.

El Niño in History, circa 285 pages, 64 graphs and maps, 12 plates, bibliography, index.

Scheduled for publication by University Press of Florida in the Fall of 2000

University Press of Florida, P.O. Box 112079. Gainesville, FL 32611-2079

Chapter 1. Grasping the Basic Concepts

This chapter offers the concepts necessary to understand the oceanic and meteorological proceses associated with El Niño and explains how heat and humidity from the South Pacific are exported to distant parts of the world. The impact of these climatic variations on ecological systems are described in a language amenable to readers from all backgrounds.

                        Oceanic and climatological aspects of El Niño
                        The distant effects: Teleconnections
                        Nature's reactions to El Niño and La Niña

Chapter 2. Searching for Past El Niños

In this chapter the methods to track down past El Niño and La Niña occurences are detailed, based on climatologic records of temperatures and rainfall or on historical references that point out to concealed climate crises. The contributions made by environmental history investigations are incorporated into the discussion.

                        What instrumental series do not show
                        On the search for indirect evidence
                        A case for environmental history
                        Natural crises and human tragedies

Chapter 3. Tracing Early El Niños

The term "El Niño" originated in coastal northern Peru during colonial times. Torrential rains and river flooding pounded communities scattered along the coast and on river oases since then. This chapter looks back at the emergence of this term among regional fishermen and presents the compilations of El Niño events that have been produced in recent centuries. It illustrates how chronologies of past occurrences serve as yardsticks against which other climatic crises around the world can be measured and compared.

                        Did El Niño help Pizarro conquer Peru ?
                        Flood and misery in the far Spanish colonies
                        Of fish, birds, and men
                        Accounts of early El Niño occurrences

Chapter 4. Raging Seas of El Niño

Abnormally warm sea temperatures are the breeding grounds for fierce storms and fronts in the South Pacific and the South Atlantic. The records of shipwrecks along the coasts of Chile, New Zealand, South Africa, California and the North Sea provide a historical series that point out to unsuspected past El Niños, revealing the usefulness of this kind of "proxy data."

                        Warm seas and mighty storms in the tropics
                        Sailing the rough seas of New Zealand
                        The dangerous waters of Chile
                        Shipwrecks around Capetown
                        The treacherous currents of California
                        Storms of the North Sea

Chapter 5. Droughts in the Tropics

In this chapter the other face of El Niño is revealed. In the 1970's it was discovered that during years with El Niño, regions far away from the coast of the Pacific suffered catastrophic droughts. Their occurrence in the highlands of Bolivia, northeastern Brazil, Central America, Mexico, Australia, Indonesia, India and Sahelian Africa are detailed using mentions in historical sources and available instrumental observations.

                        Drying winds of El Niño
                        Disaster for the shepherds of the Altiplano
                        Hunger and deprivation in northern Brazil
                        Death and unrest in Sub-Saharan Africa
                        Famine and weak monsoons in India
                        Fires of Australasia
                        When crops were scarce in Mexico

Chapter 6. Altered States: From El Niño to La Niña

In recent decades it has also been realized that changes in global circulation result from brisk passages from one disturbed state of nature to its opposite, within relatively short periods of time. This causes abrupt transitions from warm seas and moist air conditions to cold seas and drier air in the tropics. Ensuing effects are the hurricanes of the tropical Atlantic that periodically devastate the islands of the Caribbean, Central America and the coastal areas of the Gulf of Mexico.

                        La Niña: the disruptive sister
                        Sudden changes of state in ocean and atmospheric systems
                        Easterly waves and Cape Verde Islands cyclones
                        The mighty hurricanes of the Caribbean

Chapter 7. Imprints of El Niño in World History

In this chapter historical events are interpreted in the light of climatic variations. A survey of dramatic turn of events in the course of history is undertaken to determine whether they were prompted by extreme weather associated with El Niño crises. Interesting findings are revealed.

                        Hitler's change of fortune in Stalingrad
                        Who defeated Napoleon in Moscow ?
                        The Sahel droughts and the fall of Haile Selassie
                        High waters of the Nile
                        Storms and doldrums of the Little Ice Age
                        El Niño echoes from the Far Orient

Chapter 8. Traits of El Niño in the Misty Past

This chapter examines a growing body of research in the fields of anthropology, stratigraphy, geology, and glaciology that contributes to identifying occurrences of El Niño and La Niña that were not recorded by humans but which had profound implications on resource supply and cultural adaptation.

                        In search for Mega-Niños
                        Floods and devastation in Chimor land
                        ENSO traces in the Andes
                        Population contractions in prehistoric Amazonia
                        Westwinds sweep Polynesians towards new lands
                        The extraordinary discovery of Easter Island

Chapter 9. Where Else to Search ?

This final chapter that serves as a conclusion places the presented evidence in the framework of present and past climate change. The causes of global variations are outlined and the prospects of future change assessed. The chapter closes with an invitation to the reader to look for clues about climatic crises in local and national histories to see whether some of them occurred at the time of documented El Niño or La Niña events.




1.1 The themocline across the equatorial Pacific Ocean. Arrows indicate the location of Pacific equatorial islands mentioned in the text

1.2. Two hemispheres of the Southern Oscillation. The isolines show positive correlations of air pressures with Darwin/Djakarta in the "eastern hemisphere," and negative correlations with Tahiti in the "western hemisphere" during El Niño years

1.3. The Hadley circulation. Air from the subtropical highs converge to the equatorial lows or doldrums

1.4. The Walker circulation. Surface air along the equator flows from east to west, and returns east at high elevations

1.5. The four quadrants of El Niño in the tropical Pacific Ocean

1.6. The meandering paths of the subtropical jet streams

1.7. Fish landings of Peru, Chile and Ecuador (1950-1996)

1.8. Progression of the soy bean prices (1970-1999)

1.9. Major world producers of soy bean (1968-1997)

2.1. Systemic view of the interactions of El Niño

2.2 Implications of recent El Niños on economic and political affairs

3.1 Routes of Francisco Pizarro's three voyages from Panama to northern Peru (1524-1532). Adapted from Hocquehem and Ortlieb, 1990

3.2 Overland route of Francisco Pizarro on his way to Lima (1531-1532)
      From an original chart of A.-M. Hocquenhem, 1994

4.1. Years of numerous shipwrecks and severe storms during El Niño (dark circles) and non- El Niño years (open circles)

4.2. Track of tropical cyclones in Polynesia during El Niño years of diverse intensity

4.3. Probabilities of ship losses in Capetown during ENSO and non-ENSO years

4.4. Rainfall in Capetown during El Niño (dark bars) and non-El Niño years (open bars).
      Adapted from C.H. Vogel, 1989

5.1 Droughts in the world during El Niño years

5.2 Altered Walker circulation in the equatorial Pacific. Heavy rains are caused by rising air over the warm waters of El Niño and on the western slopes of the Andes. Notice the descending branch over Australasia

5.3 Rains and winds over Africa in January and July. Clouds indicate the relative location of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone

5.4 Lakes and mountain ranges of the Bolivian Altiplano

5.5 Levels of Titicaca Lake, 1912-1990. El Niño years are hatched.

5.6 Annual rain and vegetation belts in northeast Brazil

5.7 Countries of the Sahel limited by the 100 and 600 milimeter annual rainfall lines

5.8 Variability of rain in the western Sahel (1901-1995)

5.9 Annual rain in Niamey, Niger, western Sahel. The horizontal line is the 1935-1980 average

5.10 Variability of rain in eastern Africa (1875-1990)

5.11 Monsoon paths in winter (a) and summer (b)

5.12 Monsoon and droughts in India (1871-1992). El Niño years are hatched

5.13 Time of monsoon arrival in India :1982, 1983, and 1984

5.14 Winds and high clouds over the Indian Ocean according to Reason et al. 1996

5.15 Rain variability in Australia (1885-1994). El Niño years are hatched

5.16 Southern Oscillation indices and cyclone number in northern Australia

5.17 Droughts in Mexico in historical times

6.1 Cooling of the eastern Pacific and warming of the western Pacific during La Niña.
      Modified from S.H. Philander 1989

6.2 Sea surface temperatures at Chicama and corresponding Southern Oscillation indices values.

6.3 Human and environmental implications of droughts in Chile's Norte Chico
      Adapted from H. Schneider 1982

6.4 Cusp catastrophy applied to atmospheric and oceanic conditions leading to El Niño in the tropical Pacific

6.5 Chaos theory explaining sudden transitions from El Niño to La Niña.
      From G.K. Vallis 1986

6.6 Regions affected by the outburts of locust plagues in sub-Saharan Africa

6.7 Tracks of hurricanes Gilbert and Joan in 1988

6.8 Number of hurricane-days per year, 1900-1996

6.9 Number of major hurricanes on the Caribbean islands, 1500-1990

7.1 The German/Russian front at the Don River and the Stalingrad "Cauldron" in 1942

7.2 Cyclone routes across Europe during El Niño and non-El Niño years.
      Adapted from K. Fraedrich and K. Müller 1992

7.3 Route of Napoleon's campaign in Russia in 1812. Redesigned from an original of Charles J. Minard published in 1861

7.4 Drought and famine degrees in Ethiopia

7.5 Annual discharges of the Nile River at Dongola and severity of El Niño. According to W. Quinn 1992

7.6 Temperature variations of the northern Hemisphere over a 1000-year average (A.D. 1000- 1998). From EOS, Transactions American Geophysical Union 1999.

7.7 Number of icebergs sighted at the Labrador Sea, 1900-1960. Adapted from Birch and Marko 1986.

7.8 Temperature departures of the southern Hemisphere (A.D. 1000-1990) Adapted from A. Lara and R. Villalba 1993

7.9 Dry and wet years at Beijing, 1450-1950. Redrawn from data of J. Zhang and T.J.Crowley 1988

7.10 Rainfall series for Japan based on Baiu rains, 1700-1982. From M. Yoshino and A. Murata 1988

8.1 Circulation between the Atlantic and the Pacific before the Central American land bridge

8.2 Anticyclonic circuits of the Pacific Ocean after its separation from the Atlantic Ocean

8.3 Irrigated river oases and cultural centers of northern Peru

8.4 Lake Titicaca levels and cultural sequences according to M.B. Abbott et al 1997

8.5 Major language families of Amazonia and places mentioned in this chapter. Modified from B. Meggers 1994

8.6 Route of the Hokulea from Rarotonga to North Island. From C. Bayaban, B. Finney et al. 1987

8.7 Route of the Hokulea from Samoa to Tahiti. From B. Finney et al. 1989

8.8 Relief of Easter Island. The volcanoes, main habors and Mateveri airport are also shown

8.9 The balloon experiment around the Easter Island. Modified from C.Caviedes and P.R. Waylen 1993

9.1 Global temperature anomalies. Adapted from Fourth Annual Climate Assessment 1992, NOAA, 1992

9.2 Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and global temperatures since 1860. Extracted from EOS, Transactions American Geophysical Union, 1999


1.1. Tropical fish caught in Pimentel at the height of El Niño 1982-83
1.2 Guitarfish being dried on the shores of Paita
1.3 Shrimp harvested in northern Peru during El Niño 1982-83
2.4 Siltage on riverine lands caused by flooding near Lambayeque, Peru
3.5 The green oasis of Motupe
3.6 Caballitos made of totora reeds in Santa Rosa
4.7 Sequence of subpolar depressions in the Southern Seas. Extracted from ESSA satellite.
8.8 Huaca in a river oases of northern Peru
8.9 Temple of the Sun in Tiwanacu, Bolivia
8.10 Cloud pennant over Moorea, Society Islands
8.11 Stone statues of Easter Island
8.12 Beach of Anakena, Easter Island, where Hotua Matua and his colonists arrived

Fuente: University of Florida (USA):