Drought, floods and other extreme events to increase. El Niño - "the child" in Spanish - was named by fishermen in Peru and Ecuador (South America) because the phenomenon arrives at Christmas there. It is part of a natural weather cycle that happens approximately every 3-7 years and affects weather across the world for a year. It is caused by changes in temperatures of the ocean, with the first sign being warming in the Pacific Ocean. El Niño is also strongly linked to droughts in Africa, Australia and Asia, and wetter-than-normal weather in other areas like USA. The last major El Niño in 1998 killed over 2,000 people and caused billions of dollars worth of damage to crops. 2009 has already been marked by an unusual weather patterns in SE Asia, and droughts and major floods in Australia, the US, China and Latin America. Read the rest of this Guardian article here. There is also a good Interactive way to learn about this phenomenon here.