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“From one moment to the next, sea temperatures rose and winds that keep precipitation from reaching land subsided. We need more and better bridges, we need highways and cities with drainage systems, We can’t count on nature being predictable. The vast majority of people affected by the extreme weather are poor.” 

The U.S. weather agency has put the chances of an El Nino developing in the second half of 2017 at 50-55 percent.

Peru’s archaeological resources, like those all over the world, are under constant threat:  

The 1997-1998 El Niño was climatologically similar to many earlier occurrences, but for the first time, a major event was successfully predicted months in advance. The Peruvian government (among others) was able to initiate some mitigation efforts in advance of the floods, so the consequences of this El Niño were different from prior events. Some of these consequences involve Peru’s cultural patrimony. A majority of climate models had predicted a strong El Niño more than six months before the rains began in northern Peru, and the central government decided to act on this warning. The Ministry of Industry, Tourism, Integration, and International Commercial Negotiation (MITINCI) provided funds for the protection of north coast archaeological sites of tourist value. Huaca de la Luna and Chan Chan in the Moche valley, El Brujo in the Chicama valley, and Sipán and Túcume in the Lambayeque valley were among the north coast archaeological sites of tourist value eligible for MITINCI funding. In August 1997, Narváez presented a mitigation plan for Túcume to MITINCI and was awarded 140,000 soles (about $50,000) to clean and channel the gullies already cutting through the site, cover some excavated areas such as the Huaca Las Balsas and its mud friezes with clay-rich dirt, roof the large, open excavations on Huaca 1 and Huaca Larga, and improve the roof on the site museum, offices, and storage rooms.

Peru’s archaeological resources, like those all over the world, are under constant threat. The situation worsens during El Niño, which augments virtually every source of danger to the cultural patrimony: Increased erosion, enhanced wetting and drying cycles, temporary and permanent settlement expansion, greater poverty resulting in looting as an economic necessity for local people, new construction during rebuilding, and so on. Such destruction cannot be new. El Niño is not only a component in scenarios for cultural change, it also is a critical formation process for the local archaeological record. (Daniel H. Sandweiss is assistant professor of anthropology and quaternary studies at the University of Maryland)

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