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Christina Loren is a Certified Meteorologist with an enthusiastic passion for atmospheric science.



What is the 'Blob' in the Pacific Ocean?

By: Christina Loren

     You may have recently read snippets online or heard brief mentions on television of the warm 'blob' in the Pacific Ocean. The 'blob' refers to an unusually warm area of water in the Pacific that spans from Baja Mexico all the way up the west coast of North America, extending into the Gulf of Alaska. Ocean temperatures are running around 3- 4.5º F warmer than average in this sprawling area and the abnormality is linked to unusual weather conditions occurring on the west coast. You may recall that last winter we received a fair amount of rainfall in the Bay Area, but Tahoe saw very little snow. This occurred because most of the weather systems that moved over Northern California had ample moisture, but were too warm to produce heavy snowfall. This phenomenon can likely be attributed, at least in part, to the 'blob' in the Pacific Ocean.

      In addition to atypical weather patterns, the 'blob' is also producing difficulties for marine life since this area of warmer than average water is lacking critical nutrients. Typically this area is known for "coastal upwelling" which helps to churn up phytoplankton necessary for the food chain of marine mammals from the depths of the ocean. Normal upwelling is not taking place in this area of warmer, stagnant water and it is in turn nutrient poor. With the combination of a developing El Niño and the 'blob' it looks like the 2015-2016 rainy season could be one for the record books, particularly in Southern California.


Areas of red indicate the 'blob' of warmer than average water in the Pacific Ocean
that was identified in 2013. It extends from Alaska to Mexico and will likely persist
through 2015.

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posted by Christina Loren @ 2:05 PM,

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