April 23, 2015 by John Crapper
The stuff of science fiction movies is now here in reality. When I read this article I just paused in shock, opened my mouth and uttered the phrase I always utter at such moments: Holy Shit!
As reported on CNN April 22, 2015:
Waters in a huge area of the Pacific are running 5.5 degrees warmer than normal!
As monikers go, the blob doesn’t sound very worrisome. But scientists are becoming worried. A University of Washington climate scientist and his associates have been studying the blob — a huge area of unusually warm water in the Pacific — for months.
“In the fall of 2013 and early 2014 we started to notice a big, almost circular mass of water that just didn’t cool off as much as it usually did, so by spring of 2014 it was warmer than we had ever seen it for that time of year,” said Nick Bond, who works at the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean in Seattle, Washington.
Bond, credited for the name, said it was 1,000 miles long, 1,000 miles wide and 100 yards deep in 2014 — and it has grown this year.
And it’s not the only one; there are two others that emerged in 2014, Nate Mantua of the Southwest Fisheries Science Center — part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) — said in September. One is in the Bering Sea and the other is off the coast of Southern California.
Waters in the blob have been warmer by about 5.5 degrees, a significant rise.
A recent set of studies published in Geophysical Research Letters by Bond’s group points to a high-pressure ridge over the West Coast that has calmed ocean waters for two winters. The result was more heat staying in the water because storms didn’t kick up and help cool the surface water. “The warmer temperatures we see now aren’t due to more heating, but less winter cooling,” a recent news release from the University of Washington announcing the studies said. The university has worked with NOAA on the research.
According to New Scientist magazine, this is causing some fish to migrate hundreds of miles from there normal areas.
The magazine cited fisherman and wildlife officials in Alaska who have seen skipjack tuna and thresher sharks. Pygmy killer whales have been spotted off the coast of Washington. “I’ve never seen some of these species here before,” Bill Peterson of the Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle told the New Scientist.
Salmon that normally feed on tiny crustaceans and other food sources are finding that they are not around in the same numbers off the coast of the Pacific Northwest.
“They had nothing to eat,” he told the magazine of last year’s conditions in the blob. It appears that food has moved to cooler waters.
In January, Bond told the Chinook Observer in Long Beach, Washington, that his concern is for very young salmon that are still upstream.
In California sea lion pups have been found extremely underweight and dying, possibly because of an ocean with fewer things to eat.
“We have been seeing emaciated or dehydrated sea lions show up on beaches,” Justin Greenman, assistant stranding coordinator for NOAA on the West Coast, told CNN.
The Blob isn’t just a movie on the big screen starring Steve McQueen.
It is off our west coast and getting bigger. Real life is scarier than fiction. Holy Shit!