The Blob Attacks!!
With the drought in California receiving much attention, and conditions there are only getting worse, new information may shed light as to why.
According to an article released by the American Geophysical Union (AGU), a circular, 1,000 mile wide, four foot deep patch of warm water off the West Coast has scientists concerned; recently nick named “The Blob” by climate scientist Nick Bond, this patch of warm water (approximately 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer) seems to be only growing in size, and wreaking havoc on local ecosystems as well as wildlife.
According to Bond “In the fall of 2013 and early 2014 we started to notice a big, almost circular mass of water that just didn’t cool off as much as it usually did, so by spring of 2014 it was warmer than we had ever seen it for that time of year.”
According to Bond’s monthly newsletter, “The Blob” is a result of “anomalously weak cooling of the upper ocean” and not necessarily a result of warmer temperatures.
A new study by Bond and his colleagues has shed light on how this blob-like anomaly has come into being, sitting on a persistent high-pressure ridge, causing calmer oceanic conditions in the past two winters.
Moreover, animal life seems to have been affected, according to a report in March of 2015 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), “Large-scale climate patterns that affect the Pacific Ocean indicate that waters off the west coast have shifted toward warmer, less productive conditions that may affect marine species from sea birds to salmon…”
This warm patch may also explain the drought, due in part to warmer temperatures on land. As air passes over the warmer water temperature, the air becomes warmer, and as that warmer air passes over land, the ambient temperature over land increases, reducing snow fall.
Still on the fence as to whether or not this anomaly is something to be truly worried about, Professor at UW, Dennis Hartmann has been quoted as saying, “…if it persists for a third year, then we’ll know something really unusual is going on.”
According to Hartmann’s study in the GRL, a decade-scale pattern in the tropic Pacific Ocean has potential links to the North Pacific, called the North Pacific mode, which has sent waves of warm water up the west coast, and cold dry air up the east coast.
One thing is for sure, if these weather anomalies continue our country is in for some much-needed changes—both agriculturally, and culturally.