Northwest Fisheries Science Center

Newportal Blog

A gateway to oceanographic adventures from the Newport Line and beyond

Blog on ocean conditions along the Newport Line and the northern CA Current.

The Warm Blob (the movie): 2013-2015

By Tom Wainwright, Jennifer Fisher
January 25, 2016

We've talked about “The Blob” before (The Warm Blob versus El Niño); it was only a matter of time before the story got made into a movie. In this video, “The Blob” first appears as a warm zone in the central Gulf of Alaska in spring 2013, but breaks up over the summer. It forms again in fall 2013, and persists in various shapes through 2015. In late summer 2014 it shifts eastward to the coast and remains there through spring 2015. That summer, it shifted back to the central Gulf of Alaska, then spread across the entire north Pacific before fading in November and December 2015.

This video shows the evolution of “The Blob” from 2013 through 2015. It animates daily sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies for the northeast Pacific Ocean, with temperature shown in colors from deep blue (much colder than average) to deep red (much warmer than average), with white shading indicating winter sea ice. NOAA high resolution SST data provided by the NOAA/OAR/ESRL Physical Sciences Division, Boulder, Colorado, USA.

The ecological ramifications of this anomalously warm water are unknown. We do know that “The Blob” brought warm ocean water and nutrient-poor zooplankton to the Newport Hydrographic Line region throughout 2015. From past warm events, we know that a disrupted food chain leads to reduced ecosystem productivity across trophic levels, and the time it takes for the ecosystem to recover is dependent on the magnitude and duration of the warm event.

For more information about "The Blob", see our 2015 Ocean Indicator Summary.

Tagged: Warm Blob, NH Line

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