El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) effect to Mount Kinabalu – It’s coming…

Do you know that El Nino drought that happened in 1997-1998 in Sabah gave a very big impact on the vegetation of Mount Kinabalu? I came across this news from New Sabah Times, mentioning about the possibility of the drought recur again in the next future.

According to the officials, during the 1998 El Nino event only 31 milimeters (1.25 inches) of rain were recorded at Park HQ between January and April, in comparison to around 850 milimeters (33 inches) during normal year. El Nino events affected the mountain in 1973, 1983, 1992 and 1998.

During this time, periods of small scale extinction have occurred in cases where plants have been limited to restricted areas, particularly after the events. Some studies have recorded about 22% local extinction within the ferns on Kinabalu within 10 years and observations after the 1998 El Nino drought suggest that as many as 50% of the epiphytes were killed off on certain parts of the mountain.

On the other hand many animals can move away from adverse conditions and endemism is much less, at least among the larger animals. Nevertheless some groups, particularly among the insects, have developed a remarkable degree of diversity.

During the drought, climbing Mount Kinabalu will be more difficult – in another way. Although the climb will be easy because of the dryness, however, there will be limited supply of mountain water in the tank for climber along the trail. If even there is water for drinks, it is not advisable to drink it directly (as we do usually). Because of the limited water, the microorganism inside the water is more concentrated. It is much safer to bring your own water supply, but it will make your luggage heavy.

The problem with this drought will be two-fold, as your body needs more water to overcome the heat and dryness.

More info on the El Nino drought from Wikipedia.

At this moment, open your eyes and your ears for the latest news on El Nino…

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