ST Podcast: The winds of El Nino change 1

Green Pulse Ep 6: The winds of El Nino change

12:49 mins

Synopsis: In this new podcast series for 2019, The Straits Times dives into all things green, blue and brown. Green Pulse analyses the beat of the changing environment, from biodiversity conservation to climate change.

This month, we chat with Mr Rodney Martinez, international director for the Ecuador-based International Research Centre on El Nino, or CIIFEN, on a climate phenomenon known to wreak havoc all across the Pacific Ocean – El Nino.

El Nino is a natural climate cycle that can significantly influence weather patterns across the world. When it hits, on average every three to four years, it brings hotter and drier conditions to South-east Asia.

This causes forest fires in places such as Indonesia to burn harder and for longer, and in 2015, it resulted in the worst haze crisis on record for the region.

Across the Pacific Ocean, however, El Nino has an opposite, but no less destructive, impact. In places such as Ecuador and Peru, El Nino brings rain to the usually arid coast of South America, causing flash floods. And as the waters warm along the coast during El Nino events, the supply of nutrient-rich cool water to the surface is cut off, affecting fisheries and ecosystems there.

El Nino is a natural climate cycle that would occur regardless of human-caused climate change. But its impact – ranging from changing rainfall patterns to warming seas – offers us a glimpse into what things could be like in a warming world.

In April 2019, ST environment correspondent Audrey Tan and photojournalist Mark Cheong traced the footsteps of El Nino across the Pacific Ocean to investigate El Nino’s see-sawing impact.

Read their stories from Indonesia and Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands here: 

Produced by: Audrey Tan ( and Mark Cheong (

Follow Audrey Tan on Twitter

Edited by: Adam Azlee

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