It seems that the current El Nino cycle is winding down, which should end the severe drought much of Australia is currently experiencing. It's common to assume that these droughts are somehow worse than before, possibly because of global warming. In fact, Australia has borne these cycles for thousands of years, and the flora and fauna are adapted to 7-12 year cycle of drought then flood.
A great example of this is Lake Eyre, a large dry salty lake in the desert that is Australia's lowest point. After big rains in Queensland and Western New South Wales, waters flow into the lake and it briefly blooms into an incredibly productive ecosystem. This event only happens once or twice every 5-7 years, but the frequency is highly erratic and is intimately tied into the El Nino cycle.
As the lake fills, enormous numbers of brine shrimp hatch, plants and algae burst into life, fish start breeding and the entire region teems with life. Millions of waterbirds from coastal areas hundreds of kilometres away somehow know that the lake is filling and fly directly to the lake to begin breeding.
These birds, and indeed the fish and plants, have adapted to the cycle. Some birds are capable of breeding more than once in a season when the lake is full, to compensate for the lack of breeding opportunities in the preceeding 5-7 years. They gorge themselves on the shrimp and fish that briefly bloom in the lake.
It's an amazing example of the way this dry country is adapted to its climate. I'm hoping that, as this El Nino cycle ends, I'll be able to witness Lake Eyre filling. It's always been a fascination of mine, and I'd love to see it in full flight. The trouble is, to see it filled you don't get a whole lot of warning, and it only stays filled for a couple of months. It's also quite inaccessible. I think my best option might be some kind of (expensive) organized tour.
Anyone been there and seen the lake have any comments?