It’s heartbreaking when a drought or flood causes crops in a region to fail, and children to go hungry. Kids can starve to death or endure social, economic, and health problems well into adulthood due to malnutrition.

But what if there was a way to predict when these weather disasters are likely to happen, so governments, aid organizations, and residents could prepare?

A team at the University of Chicago says people could already do this, using one of the best-known weather patterns: the El Niño Southern Oscillation or ENSO.

“ENSO has destabilizing effects on agriculture, economic production, and social stability throughout areas of the global tropics that are teleconnected to it. It has been linked to human health outcomes directly through its effects on vector- and water-borne infectious diseases, as well as indirectly by decreasing agricultural yields and increasing food insecurity and the likelihood of conflict,” they write in a Nature Communications article.

It’s possible to predict this Pacific Ocean-based pattern, says Dr. Amir Jina, an Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy and a Senior Fellow at the Energy Policy Institute of Chicago. In this episode of One World, One Health, listen as Dr. Jina explains how people could use predictions about El Niño years to get ahead of some of the forces that make children go hungry.

Areas of Focus: Climate Change
Definition
Climate Change
Climate change is an urgent global challenge. EPIC research is helping to assess its impacts, quantify its costs, and identify an efficient set of policies to reduce emissions and adapt...
Climate Science
Definition
Climate Science
EPIC’s interdisciplinary team of researchers is contributing to a cross-cutting body of knowledge on the scientific causes of climate change and its social consequences.