“The Blob”: hot water body returns to the Pacific Ocean

About five years ago, a huge hot-water bubble was detected in the Pacific Ocean off the west coast of the United States and Canada, and even after being absent for years, it was again registered by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric). Administration). Impacts can be devastating on Pacific marine ecosystems.

The rise in sea surface temperatures on the US west coast was noted by NOAA with striking similarities to the initial stage of “The Blob, ” as the previous episode called it, between 2014 and 2016. Satellites detected anomalies 3 ° C above average in an area of ​​the Pacific of more than 1.5 million square kilometers, which surpasses the states of Texas, California and Montana. Added together.

Forecasts indicate that this warming is only the beginning of a phenomenon that could worsen a lot and is still touted as the second largest wave of marine heat in this northern Pacific area in four decades. “It is as strong a trajectory as the previous event. It is, by itself, one of the most significant events we have ever seen, ”NOAA California Fisheries Science Center scientist Andrew Leising said in a statement.

The new wave of "The Blob" is closely linked to the winds that this summer were "weak" over the northeast Pacific Ocean. In addition, high pressure over Alaska and low pressure between Hawaii and the West Coast allowed surface water to heat up uninterrupted, increasing sea temperatures.

Map shows above average temperatures. (Source: NOAA)

The effects of the latest phenomenon on the Pacific ignite scientists' warning of the possible effects that the current "Blob" might have on neighboring marine ecosystems. The heatwave caused the largest proliferation of toxic algae on the West Coast, wreaking havoc on crabs and other seafood for months.

In addition, fish and fishing have suffered from climate change and the difficulty of food sources. Sea lions were also forced to travel farther and many of them were trapped on beaches unknown to the species.

Previous experience has left scientists more prepared to face the new "Blob". Current forecasts estimate that the Pacific heatwave could continue for months, but do not rule out the possibility of the blob dissipating rapidly if the weather pattern is disrupted by a harsher winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

Nick Bond, a meteorologist at the Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere and Ocean in Seattle, pointed out that there are undoubtedly serious implications for the ecosystem, but also points out that the actual impact depends on the intensity and duration of the phenomenon.