This post provides background information and a quick update on the naturally occurring warming event in the eastern North Pacific known as The Blob. Not just any blob, The Blob.
We first discussed an unusual hotspot in the sea surface temperature anomalies of the eastern extratropical North Pacific two years ago in the August 2013 post appropriately titled About the Unusual Warming Event in the Extratropical North Pacific Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies. That large pocket of elevated sea surface temperatures has been given the nickname The Blob. Since that first post, we’ve discussed it numerous times, along with its impacts on global surface temperatures:
- The Hotspot in the North Pacific (February 2014)
- On The Recent Record-High Global Sea Surface Temperatures – The Wheres and Whys (August 2014)
- Axel Timmermann and Kevin Trenberth Highlight the Importance of Natural Variability in Global Warming… (November 2014)
- Researchers Find Northeast Pacific Surface Warming (1900-2012) Caused By Changes in Atmospheric Circulation, NOT Manmade Forcings (December 2014)
- Did ENSO and the “Monster” Kelvin Wave Contribute to the Record High Global Sea Surface Temperatures in 2014? (December 2014)
- Alarmists Bizarrely Claim “Just what AGW predicts” about the Record High Global Sea Surface Temperatures in 2014 (January 2015)
- North Pacific Update: The Blob’s Strengthening Suggests It’s Not Ready to Depart (April 2015)
WHAT CAUSED THE BLOB?
Answer: According to Bond et al (2015), a persistent ridge of high pressure in the mid-to-high latitudes of the eastern North Pacific prevented the sea surfaces there from cooling normally. The Ridiculously Resilient Ridge is also responsible for the high temperatures and drought conditions along the west coast of the U.S. See Anthony Watts’s April 2015 post “Warm blob” in Pacific Ocean not caused by climate change, affects U.S. weather at WattsUpWithThat. It includes the press release for two papers: Bond et al. (2015) Causes and Impacts of the 2014 Warm Anomaly in the NE Pacific and Hartmann (2015) Pacific sea surface temperature and the winter of 2014.
WHAT’S NEW WITH THE BLOB?
Figure 2 presents the satellite-enhanced sea surface temperature anomalies (Reynolds OI.v2 data, not the pause-buster data) for The Blob, using the coordinates of 35N-55N, 150W-125W. The sea surfaces of The Blob continue to show warming, after a multidecadal period of no warming through 2012.
Based on the monthly data, Figure 3 shows the annual evolutions of The Blob’s sea surface temperature anomalies for the years 2012, 2013, 2014 and year-to-date 2015. Our base year with no warming is 2012. The majority of the warming took place in 2013. Then, in 2014, sea surface temperature anomalies ended a tick lower than they started in January. The sea surfaces of The Blob are once again warming in 2015, likely in response to the strengthening El Niño.
I closed the April 2015 Blob post with the following questions. They’re still valid:
- How long will The Blob and the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge last?
- Assuming a La Niña follows this El Niño, will the La Niña be strong enough to overcome The Blob and the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge?
- What will be the combined effects of the strengthening El Niño, The Blob and the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge on weather worldwide over the next 12 months?
- Will the El Niño be strong enough to overcome the other two and bring rain to California, or will The Blob and the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge continue their influences there?
- Will The Blob have a long-term impact on the sea surface temperatures of the Eastern Pacific Ocean as a whole? That is, will The Blob be responsible for another upward shift in the sea surface temperatures of the East Pacific Ocean like that in 1976/77?
The data and maps presented in the post are available through the KNMI Climate Explorer.