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Surprise! Guess what I am
Scientists in Piura, Peru, don't have a consensus about the sudden rainy season.

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Nelson Peñaherrera
FACTORTIERRA.NET


The area around Chulucanas City, Peru, is receiving until 18 cm of rain, more than the rest of averages in Piura Region.
Photo by Roberto Saavedra/La República.

COLÁN, Peru - Like every Southern Summer (December 21st to March 20th), thousands come to the beach just for having fun. But unlike every Southern Summer, sea water is warmer, more transparent than usual .

In fact, Peruvian Sea is usually plenty of plancton, a kind of soup formed by animal and vegetal microorganisms those feed little fishes, tehn big fishes, birds and mammals. That explains the marine biodiversity. The cause could be linked to cool water pulled by Humboldt's Current coming from Antarctica.


But this marine soup is not currently saltier than usual. warm, transparent, regular. Are all this related?


I've never surfed on a bodyboard,so I began in Colán, about 55 km to the West of Piura City, last weekend. Physics taught me that if I pull my body forward, then I'll get the other side in a straightt line. But if I don't use my feet to move ahead, then I arrive to a point some meters to the south in the rim.


Speaking in trigonometry terms, I am inside a triangle rectangle, and I am surfing over the hypotenuse. Is that the current? Which one?

We know that Humboldt's Current flows from south to North and Equatorial Current (a.k.a. El Niño) flows from North to South. If my bodyboard ended right to the South, was el Niño's Current that carried me not in a plain line but a diagonal one?


If this thinking is correct, then Piura Region is in troubles: strong rains, intense wet heat... just the two weather conditions we are experiencing right now.


DOWNLOAD: What does this water look like? This is a piece of beach in Colán, Peru. (MP4)

In Callao, Peruvian central coast, El Niño Phenomenom National Survey (ENFEN as in Spanish) monitors El Niño South Oscillation (ENSO). El Niño is a Spanish word what meanss The Boy or The Male Child. It was given by Piura's fishermen to the sea water warming-up happening around Christmas, when Catholic tradition establishes Jesus Christ was born. It coincides to Southern Summer beginning.

According to an ENFEN's official report reeleased last February 2nd, all sea water characteristics I experienced in Colán only can mean an el Niño event, boosted by a Kelvin Wave in front of Peruvian coast that unusually did not come from Australia.


DOWNLOAD: ENFEN's Report about El Niño alert in Peruvian coasts. It's in Spanish. (PDF)

A Piura City-based meteorologist told FACTORTIERRA.NET that wave appeared and moved too fast that only was detected when atmosphere in Peruvian coast was already altered. "It's product of prevision lack," he commented.



Another view of rains' effects in Chulucanas City Area, Peru.
Photo by Roberto Saavedra/La República.


In fact, nobody explained clearly what and how it started but its effects.

Sea water raised from 21,5 Celsius, the Summer average, to 27 Celsius. It accelerated evaporation, then clouds were pushed by the wind, and strong to moderate rains fell in Peruvian Central in mid-January, and Peruvian Northern ending January.

Arequipa, Ica and Lima cities, in Peruvian Southern and Central coast, were assaulted by huaycos [pronounce "wykos"], a Quechua word describing a little slide of mud, rock and water originated at the mountains top saturated by humidity, losing stability. Their raging power is not based in volume but speed, and their lanes are rivers and creeks courses, not matter if they are dry.

In Peruvian Northern, the story is different - floods caused by extraordinary rains. A point in favor is the soil was suffering from drought, so everytime it rains, water ponds get dry or evaporated. However, this picture could stop as places like Piura's low pressure area is having much rain than usual. This is located just in the middle of the territory rimming Andean Range. A remarkable landmark is Chulucanas City, which had until 18 cm of precipitation. "We experience a real deluge every day," a local FACTORTIERRA.NET contributing producer comments.

Lima-based National Service of Meteorology and Hydrology (SENAMHI as in Spanish) warned we have to expect until30 cm of rain in the next weeks.


Scientists are wondering how and when this Kelvin Wave appeared just in front of Peruvian coasts.
Provided by SENAMHI


A local El Niño
ENFEN believes there are all the conditions for an El Niño local event and 'local' here means Peruvian coast, more specific Piura Region, one of the critic spots in the world where ENSO is largely studied. . Peruvian scientists named it Coastal el Niño, and currently is rated as weak with many chances to gain power as the weeks are passing on.

At least this little variation put officials from surveillance mode to alert mode, and have the scientists in Piura from pause to play. There is not a consensus, actually.


University of Piura's Rodolfo Rodríguez, one of the tireless ENSO's scholars, opines ENFFEN diagnosis is premature because it is necessary having 3 months of sea water warming-ups, and it seems to have started in mid-January. National University of Piura's School of Fishing engineering director Rodolfo García Martínez agrees, however he warned some fish scarce along Piura because species are migrating where coolest water is available. However, in this point, a FACTORTIERRA.NET editor observed since August 2016, it was possible to find warm sea water species at the market.

Anyway, Radio Cutivalú lately quoted that sea surface temperature in Sechura Bay is 28,5 Celsius, what killed shellfish reserves. A recent official measure reports 31Celsius.


Is not this really El Niño? National University of Piura's School of Physics meteorologist Manuel Alejandro More affirms is an el Niño event, indeed, based on a U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s numeric definition: 3 consecutive ascendent anomalies more than 0,5 Celsius among a month. The scientist assures NOAA reported a first raising in December 2016, then in January 2017, and finally beginning this month.

He adds it is not necessary the whole Equatorial Pacific gets warm to forecast el Niño, since scientific community divided it in 4 zones. Peru has 'assigned' 1 and 2 zones, where anomalies are apparently happening.

"This must not be discussed because it is clear it is an El Niño event and it is developing in 1+2 area," the scientist said in a statement.

FACEBOOK: Check out more photos of people facing rains in Chulucanas, Peru.

Inclusive, ENFEN says plancton was displaced from Peruvian sea due to entering of equatorial water. As it is warmer, emerging of cool water is impossible, just where microorganisms are concentrated.

All this explains why Colán sea water is warm, transparent, regular, why flows from North to South, and why Piura probably will have less fish.


SENAMHI and ENFEN have warned strong rains between February last week and March firs week, but the usual in Piura is a rainy March. This time, both agencies are sure it is triggered by a Kelvin Wave what is flowing from Central Equatorial Pacific.

Scientists say we have to assume this as usual as the climate change is an impossible reality to deny. Piura is the hard proof of that.

With reports of El Regional de Piura and Radio Cutivalú.
© 2017 Asociación Civil Factor Tierra. All Rights Reserved.


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