The Blob is coming! A giant batch of warm water in the northeast Pacific ocean, nicknamed “the Blob”, has been creating ecological changes that could turn into something worse.
In the Fall of 2013, climate scientists at the University of Washington noticed a large patch of the Pacific was anywhere from 1 to 4 degrees Celsius warmer than usual. Usually the Pacific warms and cools periodically, however, the large patch of water refused to cool off, and eventually merged with another warm patch.
What is “The Blob?”
Climate Scientist at the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean, Nick Bond, dubbed the combined patch of warm ocean, the Blob, and it has little sign of abating. The Blob has already had a hand in making the last winters milder for the West Coast, which Bond said likely also contributed to California’s long term, dangerous drought by warming up wind as it passed of the Pacific and onto land.
The Blob is 1,000 miles wide and 300 feet deep, now pressed against the coast from Alaska to Mexico. This has pushed ecological changes, such as animals like ocean sunfish appearing off the coast of Alaska, which is usually too cold for fish. Bond’s study investigated the origins of the Blob, finding that it was created not by more intense heat, but by less cooling from winter.
One of the greatest fears, however, comes from Nate Mantua, co-author of a study about the Blob from the NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center. Mantua noted that the ocean’s warming and cooling phase, Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), is extremely important to bringing temperatures back to livable conditions after the Earth has gotten too hot or too cold. PDO is similar to the El-Niño La-Niña system, however, the cycles happen over a longer span of time. Currently we have been in a PDO cooling phase. Despite this, global warming is causing temperatures to rise. If the temperature is rising even with the cooling effect of PDO, the increased temperature once we enter the warm phase could prove to be devastating. Models suggest the Blob will continue to stay warm throughout the end of the year.
Global warming and climate change are quickly changing the environment. Witness the beauty of the nature in this film: