from The Essential Paradise, series sourcebook

Doc. 1.04.1. An atmospheric anomaly Edit

see also Climate in the British Paradise Islands

El Niño, Spanish for the child, is a short-term global climactic change occurring at a frequency of about every four years. The period usually begins around the December solstice (hence the reference to the birth of Christ) with a warming of the eastern equatorial Pacific and dramatic shifts in wind conditions. It is not known why these anomalies happen or what long-term effect they will have on the future climate of the planet.

The changes during the El Niño of 1982-83 were the most massive atmospheric disturbances recorded in over a century. Extremes of precipitation and drought were experienced from one end of the Pacific basin to the other; and the ocean temperature rose 6º C above normal. The surface warmth slowed the normal upward flow of cold water from the ocean depths which in turn killed off much of the plankton on which larger sea life depends. The 1983 El Niño created not only bizarre weather patterns throughout the early part of the year but caused a retarding effect on the Earth’s rate of rotation, increasing the length of a day.

During the period of February-April 1983, when Paul Cavaliere and the crew of the yacht Starchase were in the Paradise Islands, the relative humidity was much higher than usual whilst the seasonal rains were remarkably light and infrequent. It was perhaps due to these abnormalities in the weather that Brian Connally was able to construct his temporary dwellings on the eastern end of Treasurers’ Cay when he would otherwise have been hindered by rain; thus he was able to establish for the Cavalieres their initial land claim there. Sailing out of Mexico and returning to the islands with his cousin Jonathan, Paul observed the greying skies and was perplexed by the lack of any attendant precipitation. He logged the unseasonable warmth of the ocean water and noted southeastern trade winds even steadier than usual.

The El Niño of 1994-1995, however, brought unusually hard rains and wicked gales to the Paradise Islands over the first thee months of the new year. Violent storms plundered the eastern Pacific, driving much of the fish and mollusks from the barrier reefs out to colder, deeper water to the west. The islands’ commercial fisheries were denied much of their profits and as a result local and export prices rose alarmingly for the year. However the subsequent high season was divinely blessed with sunny weather, balmy water temperatures and surprisingly little rain; and the tourist economy swelled, providing record-breaking VAT revenues.

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Doc. 1.04.1; b.2012.1213; from original text of 1995.0627. ©JCP Ltd Edit

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