Scientists Research Warm Water ‘Blob’ in Pacific

Blob (Sarah Rice / Getty)
Sarah Rice / Getty

A “blob” of warm water in the Pacific Ocean has grown so large that it has become the largest ocean-temperature anomaly on record, ocean researchers claim.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, marine scientists are studying the warm-water blob’s impact, as it could be related to California’s record four-year drought. Scientists are reportedly still unsure of what caused the anomaly and of its long-term effect on the West Coast’s climate.

Mercury News‘ Kerry Klein details the evolution of the blob:

The blob — that’s the technical term — first appeared in late 2013 as a smudge of warm water near Alaska. It then expanded southeast and merged with warm waters farther south, growing into an anomaly that extended from the Aleutian Islands to Baja California and stretched hundreds of miles west toward Hawaii. …

The blob continues to evolve. In the last month, seasonal upwelling of cooler water in Northern California has split it into two separate masses once again. And 2015 is shaping up to be an El Niño year, marked by unseasonably warm waters off the coast of South America. What researchers don’t know is if El Niño will exacerbate or neutralize the blob.

According to the paper, the warmest water in the blob has been recorded at 5 degrees Fahrenheit above average.

The blob could also be responsible for the recent washing ashore of a dozen dead whales along the Northern California coast, along with impacts on the seal population.

100 scientists from the United States, Mexico and Canada will reportedly convene at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography this fall to share data about the blob and its impact on climate and Pacific Ocean life.