El Niño May Have Helped Magellan

On November 28, 1520, Ferdinand Magellan and three of his ships finally entered the Pacific Ocean after a horrendous thirty-eight days of trying to sail through the South American strait that eventually bore his name. Two researchers, Scott M. Fitzpatrick and Richard Callaghan, put forth a study showing that the favorable winds of an El Niño year charted the course of Magellan’s ships and may have allowed Magellan to operate his ships with fewer crew members. The researchers used computer models to study the wind and weather conditions, as well as information from Magellan’s writings. This site has an animation of the route of the Victoria, the ship that circumnavigated the globe, as well as illustrations of the behavior of trade winds in normal years and in El Niño years.

courtesy of Knovation