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The Blob

The Blob05-10-2015 19:34
The Blob refers to the area of water off the coast of Oregon, Washington, and British Colombia whose temperature was well above average. It has been there for over a year and now finally seems to be abating. It was blamed by many for the extreme conditions of the last year in which our precipitation was not much below average but the snowpack had the lowest level by far during the recorded history. Unlike the more publicized case in California where there also is a serious drought going on, our precip anomaly/drought was fairly moderate. It simply was too warm to snow much in the Cascades, and The Blob got a lot of blame for that.

My question here to the scientists is whether they are aware of research on the blob and whether there is a hypothesized AGW connection. I know that ARGO floats have measured increasing heat content in the oceans and there are other such measurements. I wonder if this somehow might be accumulating off our coast in the PNW.
Edited on 05-10-2015 19:35
05-10-2015 20:39
trafnProfile picture★★★☆☆
Hi drm,

I haven't read much about the blob to which you're referencing, but I've been reading lately about another "blob" off the southern end of Greenland where the Atlantic Ocean there is actually colder than usual (maybe we should get our two blobs together and they'll balance each other out!). It has been shown that this one is due to the cold fresh water runoff from melting Greenland glaciers which then floats on top of the more dense Atlantic salt water. This Greenland blob is related to AGW and there are concerns it might interfere with the normal Atlantic currents which transfer heat from one region of that ocean to another. I would image that the anomalous blob you're referring to would also be of concern with respect to AGW, possibly for similar reasons.

Keep in mind, also, that there are large scale "rolling effects" which occur between the upper and lower levels of the oceans which transfer the warmer surface waters downward and the cooler bottom waters upward. Your anomaly might be related to these as well.
05-10-2015 22:01
climate scientist
Hi drm

There is a paper on the blob here.


It has been cited twice, but I'm not sure if either of those papers have much to say about it.
05-10-2015 22:58
Cli Sci - thanks for that. It deals with it directly but is the first step. Anomalous weather patterns triggered a series of factors that caused it. But the cause of those weather patterns requires further research, if I understand the letter correctly. No connection with AGW was hypothesized but they did say it couldn't have been related to ENSO.

trafn - it's easy to see how melting ice can cause a pool of cool water. And while we know that the oceans are warming, figuring out why that would cause a concentration and anomaly of this degree is not obvious.
Edited on 05-10-2015 23:30
06-10-2015 00:20
trafnProfile picture★★★☆☆
Hi drm

Here is the link to a PDF article written in June of 2014 by Nick Bond, the same person who wrote the article Climate Scientist cited above:

In it, he states, "So could the blob potentially impact our summer weather? It is expected to hang around, and may even be reinforced by the El Niño that appears to be developing." So, it seems there is some direct of indirect connection between ENSO and the Blob via El Nino (ENSO's warm cycle).

Here's a link to a nice summary about the blob in Wikipedia:

In it, they state that, "The immediate cause of the phenomenon is the lower than normal rates of heat loss from the sea to the atmosphere, compounded with lower than usual water circulation resulting in a static upper layer of water. Both of these are attributed to a static high pressure region in the atmosphere which has existed since spring 2014. The lack of air movement impacts the wind-forced currents and the wind-generated stirring of surface waters. These in turn have influenced the weather in the Pacific Northwest from the winter of 2013–2014 onwards and may have been associated with the unusually hot summer experienced in the continental Pacific Northwest in 2014."

Isn't it amazing how everything is connected!

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