In DepthMARINE SCIENCE

‘The Blob’ invades Pacific, flummoxing climate experts

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Science  03 Apr 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6230, pp. 17-18
DOI: 10.1126/science.348.6230.17

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Summary

Researchers are studying the drivers and impacts of a massive "blob" of warmer-than-usual water off the Pacific coast that has persisted since fall 2013.The water, 2000 km wide and 100 m deep, has affected ecosystems, changed weather inland, and altered ocean currents from Alaska to Mexico. The main culprits appear to be a massive low-pressure system that appeared in late 2013, though since then The Blob appears to be part of a warm phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, a set of phenomena that provided prolonged heating in the eastern Pacific every 4 to 20 years. Researchers have already blamed die-offs of migratory birds and sea lions on The Blob; concerns are now that salmon harvests this summer will be depressed as a result of the warm water.